Lab-grown chicken gets US approval, set to make its restaurant debut
Good Meat's cultured chicken has been on sale in Singapore since late 2020. Now, the company has announced that it's cleared all regulatory hurdles in the US and will offer its product at a Washington, DC restaurant in short order.
The full clearance from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), which was announced yesterday (June 21), means that Good Meat is deemed safe to eat and can now be shipped across state lines country-wide. The USDA approval dovetails with a US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clearance that was granted four months earlier.
According to the terms of the Federal Meat Inspection Act, the clearance also means that Good Meat will be regulated by the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Services. This agency typically places inspectors inside slaughterhouses, but in the case of Good Meat, the inspectors will take up posts inside the labs where the company cultures its meat.
Good Meat is the cultivated meat division of Eat Just, Inc., a food technology company. It creates its chicken by first harvesting cells from either eggs or live animals in a painless process. These cells are then "immortalized," meaning that they can continuously divide and create more meat without needing to be replenished. The cells are nurtured in a bioreactor where they are kept at the ideal temperature and given nutrients to grow. In four to six weeks, the meat is harvested.
So where can you get your hands on some lab-grown chicken in the US?
There is still some secrecy around this question, but the company has announced that the first batch of Good Meat will be sold to well-regarded chef and humanitarian José Andrés, who will feature it at one of his restaurants in Washington, DC. While that narrows it down a bit, Andrés owns nine eateries in the nation's capital ranging from fine dining establishments to a food truck, so it's still anyone's guess where the cultured chicken will show up first.
If the US market follows on the heels of Singapore, though, it won't take long for the chicken to be widely available – in that country, it can already be found everywhere from food hawker stalls to fine-dining restaurants.
"American consumers are now closer than ever to eating the real meat they love, that uses far less land and water than conventionally produced meat," said Bruce Friedrich, president of The Good Food Institute, a non-profit think tank focussed on alternative protein sources. "As we navigate a future with increasing global demand for meat, it is crucial that governments worldwide prioritize cultivated meat as a solution that satisfies consumer preferences, supports climate goals, and ensures food security for generations to come."
Source: Good Meat