On Wednesday the FDA viewed chicken grown from cells as safe to eat, bringing cultivated meat closer to U.S. grocery store shelves.

The FDA said it had completed a premarket review of a cultivated chicken by Upside Foods, and had no unresolved questions about its safety for humans to eat. The lab-grown chicken from Upside Foods must still get an official approval before it can be sold in the U.S.

The cultivated meat industry wants to contribute to a meat production system that relies on using much of the world’s cropland to feed animals. The livestock industry has come under increased environmental scrutiny around greenhouse gas emission.

Cultured meat is often grown in vats to replicate stem cells taken from the ovaries of live or freshly slaughtered animals. Vats are also filled with serum containing amino acids, sugars and other nutrients needed for cell growth.

Read: International Protein Trade Newsletter


Under the proposed agreement between the agencies, the FDA will oversee cell collection, cell banking, and cell growth in meat production. Once the cells are harvested, the USDA regulates the production and labeling of meat and other products made from the cells.

Upside Foods is trying to create a label to differentiate between cultured meat (the term used in the industry) and traditional meat.

Upside, formerly known as Memphis Meats, is one of the startups trying to make meat in the lab using animal cells grown in large brewery-like facilities. The company raised an undisclosed $400 million in April from investors including the Abu Dhabi Growth Fund and Scottish fund manager Baillie Gifford.

The FDA said Wednesday it is working with other companies developing farmed meat and seafood and plans to issue industry guidance to help companies prepare for regulatory reviews.

Dutch scientist Mark Post introduced the first lab-grown burger to a studio audience on camera in 2013. In response to climate change and animal rights concerns, lab-grown meat faces high production costs and competition from plant-based lab-grown meat. It cost him $330,000 to produce his 2013 Burger.

The industry faces the hurdle of increasing production of lab-grown meat and making it competitively priced compared to conventional meat.

Read: International Protein Trade Newsletter

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