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USDA Grants First Ever Lab-Grown Meat Commercialization Approval

Published on
Jun 21, 2023
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U.S. regulators have granted approval for the sale of lab-grown chicken made from animal cells, marking a significant milestone for the lab-grown meat industry. The approval allows California-based companies Upside Foods and Good Meat to offer "cell-cultivated" or "cultured" meat to restaurants and, eventually, supermarket shelves.

The approval signals a new era of meat production that aims to eliminate harm to animals and reduce the environmental impact associated with traditional farming, including land and water usage, feed production, and animal waste. This development is significant for the growth of the lab-grown meat industry as it demonstrates increasing acceptance and recognition from regulatory bodies.

Lab-grown meat, also known as cultivated meat, is produced by growing animal cells in steel tanks. These cells can be derived from a living animal, a fertilized egg, or a bank of stored cells. Upside Foods produces large sheets of chicken meat that are shaped into cutlets and sausages, while Good Meat offers a variety of chicken products such as cutlets, nuggets, shredded meat, and satays. The taste and texture of lab-grown chicken closely resemble traditional chicken, providing consumers with a familiar experience.

While this approval paves the way for lab-grown meat to enter the market, there are still challenges to overcome. The cost of production remains high, making lab-grown chicken significantly more expensive than conventionally farmed chicken. Additionally, the scale of production is currently limited, preventing widespread availability. It could take several years before these products become more accessible and reach a wider market.

The growth of the lab-grown meat industry depends on consumer acceptance and the ability to produce affordable products at scale. A recent poll indicates that many consumers are skeptical about trying meat grown from cells, with concerns ranging from safety to the "ick factor." However, once people understand the production process and taste the meat, they tend to be more accepting.

To drive the industry's growth, it is essential to address these consumer concerns, improve cost-efficiency, and expand production capabilities. Increased investment in research and development, innovation in production methods, and partnerships with established food companies can help accelerate progress in these areas.

Lab-grown meat has the potential to revolutionize the food industry by offering a sustainable and ethical alternative to conventional meat production. If the industry can overcome challenges and achieve cost parity with traditional meat, it could provide a viable solution to address environmental concerns and animal welfare issues. By introducing cultivated meat to more restaurants and eventually the wider market, lab-grown meat companies can make significant strides towards transforming the way we produce and consume meat, benefiting both consumers and the planet.

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