Lab-grown meat cleared for human consumption by US regulator

WASHINGTON — The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the first time cleared a meat product grown from animal cells for human consumption, the agency announced on Wednesday.

UPSIDE Foods, a company that makes cell-cultured chicken by harvesting cells from live animals and using the cells to grow meat in stainless-steel tanks, will be able to bring its products to market once it has been inspected by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), said a release from the FDA.

“The world is experiencing a food revolution and the (FDA) is committed to supporting innovation in the food supply,” said FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf and Susan Mayne, director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition in a statement.

The FDA said in documents released on Wednesday that it had reviewed data from the company and had no further questions about the company’s conclusion that its product is safe for humans to eat.

“We are thrilled at FDA’s announcement,” said David Kay, UPSIDE’s director of communications, in an e-mail. “This historic step paves the way for our path to market.”

The review is not technically an approval and applies only to UPSIDE products, though the agency is ready to work with other firms developing cultured animal cell food, the FDA said in a release.

USDA and FDA together regulate cell-cultured meat under a 2019 agreement between the two agencies. USDA will oversee the processing and labeling of cell-cultured meat products.

Demand for alternatives to farmed meat has grown alongside awareness of the high greenhouse gas emissions of raising livestock. Cultivated chicken was served to attendees at this year’s COP27 climate conference in Egypt. — Reuters