In what is an enormous milestone for the global cellular agriculture industry, cultivated meat has been approved for sale in the United States, with both UPSIDE Foods and GOOD Meat securing the regulators’ nod.
Both companies have announced they’ve completed the pre-market regulatory review process, after obtaining Grants of Inspection from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). It follows the USDA approval of their labels, and means the companies can now start commercial production and sales of their respective products.
In the US, cultivated meat is regulated by both the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the USDA.
UPSIDE Foods will make its market debut with a whole-textured chicken product that is over 99 percent cultivated chicken cells.
GOOD Meat, a division of Eat Just, became the first company in the world to have its cultivated chicken product available to consumers when it gained regulatory approval in Singapore in 2020. It will now extend its reach into the US.
“This announcement that we’re now able to produce and sell cultivated meat in the United States is a major moment for our company, the industry and the food system. We have been the only company selling cultivated meat anywhere in the world since we launched in Singapore … and now it’s approved to sell to consumers in the world’s largest economy. We appreciate the rigour and thoughtfulness that both the FDA and USDA have applied during this historic two-agency regulatory process,” said Josh Tetrick, co-founder and CEO of GOOD Meat and Eat Just.
GOOD Meat’s grant of inspection was for its demonstration plant in Alameda, California, as well as its contract manufacturing partner, JOINN Biologics. The vetting applied to the facilities and equipment, standard operating procedure for sanitation, and the approach to identification, evaluation and control of food safety hazards.
GOOD Meat’s cultivated chicken will first be made available to restaurateur Jose Andres, owner of more than 30 restaurants across the US, who has previously confirmed that a venue in Washington DC will be the first to serve GOOD Meat’s cultivated chicken.
UPSIDE Foods CEO, Uma Valeti, said the company’s approval in the US is an enormous milestone for both the industry and the planet.
“This approval will fundamentally change how meat makes it to our table. It’s a giant step towards a more sustainable future – one that preserves choice and life. We are excited to launch our signature, whole-textured UPSIDE chicken and can’t wait for consumers to taste the future,” he said.
UPSIDE has also wasted no time processing its first order, with three-Michelin starred chef, Dominique Crenn, agreeing to feature cultivated chicken on the menu at Bar Crenn in San Francisco.
Sam Perkins, CEO of Cellular Agriculture Australia, a not-for-profit working to enable the future of cell cultivation and precision fermentation technologies in Australia, said he hopes the approvals will help to clear the path for other start-ups in the sector.
“UPSIDE Foods and Eat Just’s ability to produce and sell cultivated meat in the United States is a landmark moment for both companies,” Perkins told Future Alternative.
“We hope this gives assurance to consumers and food safety regulation systems around the world, and in turn, reduces the significant cost, time and resourcing required to go through these processes in the future.
“Also, we hope this boosts investor confidence in a tough economic market to ensure companies can raise the required capital to scale and begin testing the financial viability of the sector and its associated impact.”
Simon Eassom, executive director of Australia’s alt protein think tank, Food Frontier, said the US approval will boost the morale of Australia’s cellular agriculture sector, but that the local industry needs to move quickly in order to reap the benefits.
“Australia has the R&D expertise, the technology, and the entrepreneurial mindset required to accelerate developments in cellular agriculture, but we can’t be complacent.
“Other countries, such as Canada and Israel, are heavily investing in the alternative proteins sector and Australia needs to move fast if it’s to be a major player in the region. Gaining regulatory approval for cultivated is the first, and essential, step if Australian businesses are to reap the benefits of being first movers in this nascent industry,” he said.
In February, Vow became the first cultivated meat company in Australia to lodge an application for regulatory approval with Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ). The application is for Vow’s cultivated quail product, which is expected to be approved in the Singaporean market prior to gaining approval here in Australia.