‘A Historic Milestone’: Cell-Based Meat Certified Safe To Eat By FDA In US First
UPSIDE Foods cell-based chicken burger UPSIDE Foods is one of the many start-ups to create cell-based chicken - Media Credit: UPSIDE Foods

‘A Historic Milestone’: Cell-Based Meat Certified Safe To Eat By FDA In US First

UPSIDE Foods could become the first cell-based meat company to sell its products in the US


2 Minutes Read

America has just taken a major step forward in its journey to offering cell-based meat to consumers. 

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has ruled that chicken made by Californian start-up UPSIDE Foods is safe to eat, after giving it a “No Questions” letter. 

Cell-based meat, also known as cultured or cultivated meat, is created using animal cells. These cells are taken from animals, supposedly painlessly, and made into meat in bioreactors. The product therefore does not require an animal to be farmed and killed for their flesh.

Experts have pointed out that cell-based meat could be the answer to the huge ethical and environmental costs of animal farming. While a number of companies across the world are creating it, it is currently only available to buy in Singapore. Regulatory approval in the US and elsewhere has been slower. 

‘A historic milestone”

A spokesperson for UPSIDE Foods called its first step FDA approval a “historic milestone,” and said it was something that the company has been working towards since it was founded in 2015. 

While UPSIDE Foods’ chicken is regarded as safe to eat, it has not been approved for sale yet. The company will now be working with the USDA to obtain a grant of inspection for its engineering production, and Innovation Center (EPIC), and to approve its label. Once these are complete, it will be able to start commercial production and sales. 

In a statement, the FDA said: “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 in the near future. The FDA’s goal is to support innovation in food technologies while always maintaining as our first priority the safety of the foods available to U.S. consumers.”

The future of cell-based meat

Traditional animal agriculture is one of the most environmentally destructive industries there is. It’s responsible for at least 14.5 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, and it’s also a leading cause of deforestation and biodiversity loss.

Cell-based meat requires far less resources than traditional meat, and emits up to 92 percent fewer emissions. Because of this, there has been a great deal of interest in the food in recent years.

UPSIDE Foods is one of a number of companies creating the meat worldwide. The San Francisco-based company Eat Just Inc is currently the only brand to offer the product to market, selling its cell-based chicken in Singapore.

There have also been breakthroughs in the industry in Israel and Holland. The latter’s government legalized consumer trials of cell-based products earlier this year. It also allocated €60 million of public spending to the industry. 

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The Author

Polly Foreman

Polly is the Deputy Editor of Plant Based News. She has been vegan since 2014, and has written extensively on veganism, animal rights, and the environment.

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