Americans could soon eat chicken grown in a lab from cultured animal cells rather than raised at a farm or facility. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) that the environment-friendly chicken made by California-based Upside Foods is safe to eat, although it is not yet fully approved for sale.
“Our goal is to support innovation in food technologies, while always maintaining the production of safe food as our priority,” the FDA said. “Human food made with cultured animal cells must meet the same stringent requirements, including safety requirements, as all other food.”
The idea behind the firm’s production plan is to use animal cell culture technology to take living cells from chickens, then grow those cells in a controlled environment. The business walked the FDA through its production process, the establishment of cell lines and cell banks, manufacturing controls, and all components and inputs.
Before it can sell its products, Upside still needs a grant of inspection from the United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS) from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The food itself will also require a mark of inspection from USDA-FSIS.
The FDA coordinates with USDA-FSIS to ensure the food is appropriately regulated and labeled.
UPSIDE Foods CEO and founder Dr. Uma Valeti, a cardiologist, started the business while working for the Mayo Clinic, growing human heart cells in a lab. He called the new product a “watershed moment in the history of food,” in a statement, CBS News reported.
CBS News reported that the company’s California facility could produce more than 50,000 pounds of chicken yearly. The FDA added that it is ready to work with more firms on developing cultured animal cell food and production processes.
“We encourage firms to have these conversations with us often and early in their product and process development phase, well ahead of making any submission to us,” the FDA said. According to the agency, multiple firms working on foods using cultured animal cells are already talking with the FDA.