"We will see this as the day the food system really started changing:" Some predict lab-made meats will shake up the food industry. Stock image.

MONEY & BUSINESS: Lab-grown meat is ‘safe to eat,’ FDA says — but will it revolutionize food industry?

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Lab-made meat might soon be coming to a dinner plate near you.

The Food and Drug Administration has declared laboratory-grown chicken is “safe to eat,” potentially revolutionizing America’s food processing practices forever.

The agency’s declaration, which came on Wednesday, pertains specifically to cultivated chicken produced by a California start-up, Upside Foods. However, it may soon extend to synthetic meats manufactured by many other companies.

“The world is experiencing a food revolution and the FDA is committed to supporting innovation in the food supply,” Commissioner Robert M. Califf said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Costa Yiannoulis of Synthesis Capital, the world’s largest food technology fund, excitedly told The Washington Post: “We will see this as the day the food system really started changing. The US is the first meaningful market that has approved this — this is seismic and groundbreaking.”

Singapore is currently the only country where lab-grown meats can legally be sold to consumers.

“We will see this as the day the food system really started changing:” Some predict lab-made meats will shake up the food industry.
Upside Foods
Upside Foods harvests cells from chicken tissue and grows edible chicken flesh under controlled conditions in bioreactors. Stock image.
Upside Foods harvests cells from chicken tissue and grows edible chicken flesh under controlled conditions in bioreactors.
Upside Foods

In order to manufacture its meat, Upside Foods harvests cells from chicken tissue and grows edible chicken flesh under controlled conditions in bioreactors. The firm insists that the cultivated flesh is identical to that which comes from conventionally-raised and slaughtered chickens. The FDA has outlined the laboratory process in detail.

“Dozens” of bigger American food companies hope to create their own home-grown meat, according to the Washington Post, and more FDA announcements are likely in the near future.

“This is a critical milestone toward the future of food,” Bruce Friedrich, president of the Good Food Institute, told the publication. “Cultivated meat will soon be available to consumers in the US who desire their favorite foods made more sustainably, with production requiring a fraction of the land and water of conventional meat when produced at scale.”

Lab-made meat has huge environmental benefits and is more humane for animals, but high price points and consumer skepticism may keep Americans from falling in love with the product.
Lab-made meat has huge environmental benefits and is more humane for animals, but high price points and consumer skepticism may keep Americans from falling in love with the product.
Upside Foods

In addition to the environmental benefits, the FDA’s declaration could cut animal abuse. It may also prompt many vegetarians to question whether they would start consuming meat if animals aren’t slaughtered in the process.

However, high price points and consumer skepticism could slow a pivot to lab-made meat, meaning restaurants and supermarkets may not be stocking it in bulk anytime soon.

Like the FDA, New York University professor Marion Nestle believes that cultivated meat is safe for human consumption but understands why some Americans may be skeptical.

“It’s a technological solution to a complicated problem. We just don’t know enough about it,” Nestle told USA Today. “I think there are reasons for hesitancy that make sense, of course.”



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