FDA clears lab-grown meat for human consumption


(The Hill) — The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Wednesday announced it has cleared a lab-grown meat product as safe for human consumption for the first time.

In a news release, the agency said that after reviewing information from UPSIDE Foods about food the company is making from cultured chicken cells, it has “no further questions at this time about the firm’s safety conclusion.”

The agency noted that before UPSIDE Foods, based in Berkeley, Calif., can bring its products to the market, the facility in which the food is made will have to meet inspection standards from the FDA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the USDA-Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

“The world is experiencing a food revolution and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is committed to supporting innovation in the food supply,” FDA Commissioner Robert Califf and director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) Susan Mayne said in a joint statement. “As an example of that commitment, today we are announcing that we have completed our first pre-market consultation of a human food made from cultured animal cells.” 

In a separate statement, UPSIDE Food CEO and Founder Dr. Uma Valeti expressed his excitement over the FDA’s safety clearance of his company’s product, referring to it as a “watershed moment.” 

“This is a watershed moment in the history of food,” Valeti said. “We started UPSIDE amid a world full of skeptics, and today, we’ve made history again as the first company to receive a ‘No Questions’ letter from the FDA for cultivated meat. This milestone marks a major step towards a new era in meat production, and I’m thrilled that U.S. consumers will soon have the chance to eat delicious meat that’s grown directly from animal cells.”

The FDA also said in its news release that it is “ready to work with additional firms developing cultured animal cell food and production processes to ensure their products are safe and lawful under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.”

According to a CNBC report, the global cultivated meat industry aims to cut down on the greenhouse gas emitted in the production of animal-based food products and, in doing so, to help increase the sustainability of the food system and reduce the impacts of climate change.

“We are already engaged in discussion with multiple firms about various types of products made from cultured animal cells, including those made from seafood cells, which will be overseen solely by the FDA,” the agency concluded its news release. “We continue to encourage firms to enter into dialogue with us often and early in their product development phase, well ahead of making any submission to us.”

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