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WASHINGTON — US regulators on Wednesday approved the sale of chickens made from animal cells for the first time, allowing two California companies to bring “lab-raised” meat to restaurant tables and eventually supermarket shelves nationwide.
The USDA granted licenses to Upside Foods and Good Meat, which have been competing to sell non-slaughter meat in the United States. “Cultivated” meat from the lab arrives on your dinner plate.
The move ushers in a new era in meat production that aims to eliminate harm to animals and significantly reduce the environmental impact of grazing, growing animal feed and animal waste.
“Instead of all the land and water used to feed every animal that is slaughtered, you can do it another way,” said Josh Tetrick, co-founder and CEO of Eat Just. good meat.
The company has been approved for federal inspections required to sell meat and poultry in the United States. The action comes months after the US Food and Drug Administration determined both companies’ products were safe to eat. A manufacturing company called Joinn Biologics, which works with Good Meat, has also been approved to make the product.
Cultured meat is grown in steel tanks using live animal cells, fertilized eggs or special stored cell banks. In the case of upside, it comes out in large sheets and then molded into shapes such as chicken cutlets or sausages. Already selling grown meat in Singapore, the first country to allow it, Good Meat turns chunks of chicken cells into cutlets, nuggets, shreds and satays.
But don’t look for this new meat in American grocery stores any time soon. Ricardo San Martin, director of the Alt:Meat Lab at the University of California, Berkeley, said farmed chicken is far more expensive than whole chicken meat and cannot yet be produced on a traditional meat scale.
The two companies plan to offer new foods first in exclusive restaurants. Upside has partnered with a San Francisco restaurant called Bar Crenn, and Good Meat dishes will be served at the Washington, DC restaurant run by chef and owner Jose Andrés.
Company officials are quick to point out that the product is meat, not substitutes like the Impossible Burger or Beyond Meat’s products made with plant-based proteins and other ingredients.
More than 150 companies worldwide are focusing on cell-derived meat – not just chicken, but pork, lamb, fish and beef – which scientists say has the biggest impact on the environment.
Berkeley-based Upside operates a 70,000-square-foot building in nearby Emeryville. On a recent Tuesday, visitors entered a gleaming commercial kitchen where chef Jess Weaver was sautéing fillets of grown chicken in a white wine butter sauce with tomatoes, capers and leeks.
The finished chicken breast product was slightly lighter in color than the grocery store version. Otherwise, it looked, cooked, smelled, and tasted like any other pan-fried poultry.
“The most common response we get is, ‘Oh, it tastes like chicken,'” said Amy Chen, Upside’s COO.
Alameda-based Good Meat operates a 100,000-square-foot plant, and chef Zach Tyndall cooked a smoked chicken salad on a sunny June afternoon. He served chicken “thighs” on a bed of potato puree with a mushroom vegetable demi-glace and tiny purple cauliflower florets. Good Meat chicken products come pre-cooked and can be used in a variety of dishes simply by heating them.
Chen acknowledged that many consumers are skeptical, even sarcastic, about the idea of eating cell-raised chicken.
“We call it the ‘ick factor’,” she said.
This sentiment was echoed in a recent poll conducted by the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs and Research. Half of American adults said they would never eat meat grown using animal cells. When asked to choose from a list of reasons for reluctance, most people who said they were unlikely to try said “it just sounds weird.” About half said it wouldn’t be safe.
But once people understand how meat is made, they become more accepting, Chen said. And once you taste it, it usually sells out.
“It’s the meat you’ve always known and loved,” she said.
Grown meat begins in cells. Upside experts take cells from live animals and select those that taste best and are most likely to grow quickly and sustainably to form high-quality meat, Chen said. Good Meat products are made from master cell banks formed from commercially available chicken cell lines.
Once a cell line is selected, it is combined with a broth-like mixture containing amino acids, fatty acids, sugars, salts, vitamins, and other elements necessary for cell growth. Cells grow and multiply rapidly inside a tank called an incubator. Upside, muscle and connective tissue cells grow together to form a large sheet. After about three weeks, the poultry cell sheets are removed from the tank and molded into cutlets, sausages or other foods. Good meat cells grow in large chunks and are formed into a variety of meat products.
Both companies emphasized that initial production will be limited. The Emeryville facility can produce up to 50,000 pounds of farmed meat products per year, but the goal is to expand to 400,000 pounds per year, Upside officials said. Good Meat officials do not estimate production targets.
By comparison, the United States produces about 50 billion pounds of chicken a year.
It could be several years before consumers see the product in more restaurants and seven to 10 years before it hits the broader market, says CRB, a Missouri company that designs and builds pharmaceutical facilities that specializes in cell-based foods. Sebastian Bohn said. , biotechnology and food companies.
Cost will be another stumbling block. Neither Upside nor Good Meats officials have disclosed the price of the chicken cutlets, saying only that the price has been significantly reduced since the companies started demonstrating. After all, prices are expected to reflect premium organic chicken that sells for up to $20 per pound.
San Martin said it fears that while grown meat may be an alternative to traditional meat for the wealthy, it will do little for the environment if it remains a niche product.
“It’s great if some high-class or wealthy people want to eat this instead of chicken,” he said. “Does that mean you’re going to feed the poor people chicken? I’m honestly not sure.”
Tetrick said he shares critics’ concerns about the challenge of producing affordable and novel meat products for the world. However, he stressed that traditional meat production is so harmful to the planet that alternatives are needed. It is desirable that you do not have to give up meat altogether.
“I miss meat,” says Tetrick, who grew up eating chicken wings and barbecue in Alabama. “There must be other ways for people to enjoy chicken, beef and pork with their families.”
The Associated Press Health and Science Division is supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Education Media Group. AP is solely responsible for all content.
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