The US Food and Drug Administration has given safety clearance to lab-grown meat for the first time. Upside Foods, a California-based company that makes meat from cultured chicken cells, will begin selling its products once its facilities have been inspected by the US Department of Agriculture. The business walked the FDA through its production process, the establishment of cell lines and cell banks, manufacturing controls, and all components and inputs.
The agency said it had evaluated the information submitted by Upside Foods and had “no further questions at this time about the firm’s safety conclusion.”
“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 U.S. market soon,” Dr. Robert M. Califf, the FDA’s commissioner of food and drugs, and Susan T. Mayne, director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN), said in a statement.
The FDA is closely coordinating with the USDA-FSIS to make sure the food is properly regulated and labeled. UPSIDE Foods’ CEO and founder, Dr. Uma Valeti, who is also a cardiologist, started the business while working for the Mayo Clinic and growing human heart cells in a lab.
The company’s California facility can produce more than 50,000 pounds of chicken a year, CBS News reported. Now, the FDA added that it is ready to work with more firms on developing cultured animal cell food and production processes. “We encourage firms to have these conversations with us often and early in their product and process development phases, well ahead of making any submissions to us,” the FDA said.
Although not technically an approval, the FDA said that a thorough pre-market consultation process had been completed. The clearance only applies to food made from cultured chicken cells by Upside, but the statement said the FDA “is ready to work with additional firms developing cultured animal cell food.”