Posted BY: Alicia Powe

The US Food and Drug Administration has approved lab-grown meat, a product grown from animal cells, for human consumption for the first time.

The FDA announced Wednesday that laboratory-grown chicken developed by Upside Food, is “safe to eat,” clearing the way for the California-based company that creates cell-cultured chickens to begin selling its products.

To manufacture its meat, Upside Foods harvests cells from live animals, and chicken tissue, and uses the cells to grow meat in stainless-steel tanks known as bioreactors.

Meat grown in a petri dish in the lab at the University of Maastricht in 2011
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The agency issued a statement Wednesday announcing it evaluated Upside Food’s production and cultured cell material and has “no further questions” about the safety of its cultivated chicken filet.

“The world is experiencing a food revolution,” stated FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf. “Advancements in cell culture technology are enabling food developers to use animal cells obtained from livestock poultry, and seafood in the production of food with these products expected to be ready for the US market in the near future.”

“The FDA’s goal is to support innovation in food technologies while always maintaining as our first priority the safety of the foods available to US consumers,” he added.

Upside Foods founder and CEO Uma Valeti heralded the FDA’s approval.

“I’ve been looking forward to this day for a long time. UPSIDE has received our “No Question Letter” from the FDA. They’ve accepted our conclusion that cultivated chicken is safe to eat, meaning UPSIDE is one step closer to being on tables,” Valeti tweeted.

In addition to FDA approval, Upside Food’s facilities must be inspected by the US Department of Agriculture before its artificial meat is distributed for sale.

“USDA and FDA together regulate cell-cultured meat under a 2019 agreement between the two agencies,” Reuters reports.  “USDA will oversee the processing and labeling of cell-cultured meat products.

“Demand for alternatives to farmed meat has grown alongside an awareness of the high greenhouse gas emissions of raising livestock,” the publication notes. “Cultivated chicken was served to attendees at this year’s COP27 climate conference in Egypt.”.