Lab-grown chicken on the menu in Singapore after world-first approval
With our consumption of meat continuing to place a huge strain on the environment, the emergence of lab-grown alternatives is beginning to pick up steam. A world-first regulatory approval today should help things along, with food tech startup Eat Just’s cultured chicken receiving the green light for sale in Singapore.
While there are a number of startups developing fake meat products that use plants as their starting point, such as the beef and pork offered by Impossible Foods, others, including KFC and Aleph Farms, are working on solutions made from real animal cells.
These are currently expensive but may be a more palatable option for meat enthusiasts, as scientists, environmentalists and food technology companies work to offer more sustainable ways to feed the population. Conventional meat production calls for massive amounts of land and energy, and generates huge amounts of greenhouse gas emissions, so the race is on to find a greener way forward.
Eat Just’s solution is to harvest a small amount of cells from living animals, and then feed those cells the same nutrients the living animals would receive so that they grow and multiply. This takes place inside a bioreactor and, eventually, these cells develop into edible portions of cultured meat.
Cultured chicken is the company’s first product, and it says the meat's composition is similar to that of real chicken and therefore offers the same nutritional value – it's also antibiotic-free. Eat Just says the cultured meat generates 78 to 96 percent less greenhouse gas emissions, requires 99 percent less land and uses as much as 96 percent less water than conventional chicken to produce.
The company has spent months documenting its manufacturing process across 20 production runs, detailing the purity and stability of the chicken cells and working to prove the cultured chicken meets the same safety standards as regular poultry. The Singapore Food Agency has now reviewed the relevant documentation and data, and has approved the cultured chicken for sale as an ingredient in chicken bites, which will be sold in a local restaurant.
"We are delighted but not surprised to see the rigor that went into this approval, as well as the testing and the consistent success of producing significant amounts of cultivated meat without antibiotics,” says Bruce Friedrich, executive director of non-profit The Good Food Institute. “It's critical for cultivated meat companies to be extra-careful and to go beyond public expectation in ensuring the safety and consumer comfort with their products.”
Eat Just says it plans to follow this world-first approval with a commercial launch of its meat products in Singapore. While its cultured chicken is its first product, it is also working to develop cultured beef from Californian cattle and Japanese Wagyu.
“I’m sure that our regulatory approval for cultured meat will be the first of many in Singapore and in countries around the globe,” says Josh Tetrick, co-founder and CEO of Eat Just. “Working in partnership with the broader agriculture sector and forward-thinking policymakers, companies like ours can help meet the increased demand for animal protein as our population climbs to 9.7 billion by 2050.”
Source: Eat Just