The long-awaited approval of non-animal meat removes a significant obstacle.
The grocery store aisles and your dinner plate are now a significant step closer to lab-grown beef. On Wednesday, the Food and Drug Administration issued its first-ever rubber stamp to a business that produces cultured beef. Following completion of the FDA’s pre-market consultation procedure, the agency concluded that UPSIDE Foods’ safety claims were accurate.
The FDA’s evaluation of UPSIDE, though technically not a “approval procedure,” essentially gives the company’s technology and production method, which employs small amounts of chicken cells plus a growth medium to develop bigger amounts of meat without the slaughter, the thumbs-up.
The FDA stated in its letter to UPSIDE that it had “no concerns at this time regarding UPSIDE’s conclusion that foods comprised of or containing [its] cultured chicken cell material…are as safe as comparable foods produced by other ways.” This is a clumsy way of saying, “yeah, looks nice.”
For years, cultured meat has been heralded as a potential remedy for the numerous environmental drawbacks of conventional, animal-produced meat. The truth is that it’s difficult to evaluate the relative climate and pollution costs while “meat sans animals” has remained mostly theoretical, despite the fact that some studies have questioned the actual environmental benefits of lab-grown steaks, fillets, and drumsticks.
Companies have long been battling in vain for regulatory approval of cultured meat in the United States. No manufacturer has actually begun producing their product at a marketable scale without the FDA’s approval. To effectively assess a food’s influence on the ecosystem, several distinct environmental factors must be taken into account.
Important elements like the acreage utilised to cultivate the grains used in the cell growth medium and the energy required to run these facilities are significant unknowns in the case of cultured meat. There are many estimates available, but it’s difficult to compare the environmental impact of cultured meat to factory-farmed livestock until a company successfully navigates these choices and manages to earn money.
Singapore became the first nation in the world to authorise the sale of cultured meat in 2020. In that instance, the item was chicken from Eat Just. The FDA’s declaration on Wednesday isn’t quite the same thing because a particular product hasn’t yet been given the all-clear to be sold in supermarket aisles. Additionally, UPSIDE will have to deal with additional regulation from the USDA and the Food Safety and Inspection Service if they wish to sell their products in stores.
The expansion of cultured beef from the conference-circuit sample tray to actual consumers represents one of the major developments in recent years. We may soon get to find out whether the notion that lab-grown meat may be the future of food has attracted the support of well over a hundred businesses and start-ups.