US – The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has “no further questions” about the safety of how California-based food-tech business Upside Foods produces its cell-based chicken product.
This is the first time the regulator has raised no objections to a cell-based meat product being made available for human consumption.
The FDA reviewed more than 100 pages of documentation from Upside Foods based on the company taking living cells from chickens and growing them in a controlled environment to make the final product and has now completed its pre-market consultation.
The regulator issued the cell-based food company with a “No Questions” letter for its cell-based chicken products.
The letter essentially clears the company, which produces lab-grown meat, poultry, and seafood direct from animal cells, to sell its chicken products commercially in the United States.
However, FDA noted that “while it is not an approval process”, the company will be able to launch its cell-based meat products once it has been inspected by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and obtained a grant of inspection for its engineering production, Innovation Center (EPIC), approved its label.
Upside Foods, formerly known as Memphis Meats, is backed by investors including meat giant Tyson Foods and agri-food heavyweight Cargill.
In a press release, the FDA said it is ready to work with other developers of cultured animal cell food and productions to ensure their safety and suitability for public consumption.
The FDA has provided its description of a four-step production process involved in the production of the “no-kill,” “lab-grown,” “cultivated” and “human food made from cultured animal cells” products.
The steps include; Cells from animal tissue are selected, screened, and grown, then stored for later use.
Some cells are then put in sterile containers with controlled environments so they can multiply into billions and trillions of cells.
Next, substances are added, such as protein growth factors, new surfaces for cell attachment, or extra nutrients, so the cells can “differentiate into various cell types and assume characteristics of muscle, fat, or connective tissue cells.”
Finally, the resulting cellular material is “harvested” and “prepared using conventional food processing and packaging methods.
Uma Valeti, the CEO and founder of Upside Foods, said: “This is a truly historic milestone that we’ve been working towards since the company was founded in 2015. It marks a major step towards a new era in meat production and brings us closer to our ultimate goal of making meat a force for good.
“This green light paves the way for our path to market in the United States and brings us one giant step closer to arriving on consumers’ plates. Next up, we will be working with USDA to obtain the additional approvals that will enable us to sell products in the US. We’ve never been closer to building a more sustainable, humane, and delicious world.”
Cell-based meat technology and associated products are said to be able to mitigate production, climate, and health and nutrition challenges while decreasing traditional meat production.