The Washington Post writes that on Wednesday the Food and Drug Administration (Fda) declared safe for consumption a lab-produced meat food developed by a California start-up. What, according to the newspaper, “paves the way for products derived” from real animal cells, which do not require slaughter. So much so that they may one day be available in grocery stores and restaurants in the United States.
In short, dozens of major food companies are scrambling to introduce the American public to meat “derived” and produced indoors in a laboratory. So far, this method is the preserve only of Singapore, the only country where these products are legally sold to consumers.
But the Fda’s announcement has thus cleared chicken from Upside Foods, also known as Memphis Meats, a food technology company based in Berkley, California, that aims to produce sustainably made meat. According to the Fda, it is safe to eat and will likely begin marketing in the U.S. from the next few months.
Upside Foods, meanwhile, is “harvesting cells from viable animal tissue and growing edible meat,” the article says, “under controlled conditions in bioreactors, meat that the company says will be identical to conventionally raised meat. What’s the point? The answer, asserts the Post, lies in the fact that “alternatives to conventional animal agriculture are seen as a way to mitigate climate change” and were also a major topic of discussion this week at the United Nations climate change conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.
Meanwhile, there are several start-ups that have gone the cell-derived meat route and “seeking regulatory approval starting in 2018,” even as this type of industry has since grown “to more than 151 companies on six continents, backed by more than $2.6 billion in investment according to the Good Food Institute, a nonprofit group that promotes alternatives to traditional meat. Although initial production costs, it notes, can make the products “prohibitively expensive” precisely because of the “difficulty in creating a reasonable facsimile of an animal tissue from cultured cells.”
Concludes the Post in reporting the general expert opinion, “If lab meats can replicate the taste and texture of traditional meat — at a similar or lower cost and with fewer drawbacks — this could be a turning point for global nutrition.” And also a solution to world hunger.