USDA Approves Sale of First Fake Meat: Will You Be Buying Some?

On Wednesday, the United States Department of Agriculture made an announcement stating its approval of the commercial sale of "lab-grown" meat.

Good Meat and Upside Foods, both based in California, have been granted permission to sell chicken products that are produced from animal cells within the United States. This decision places the U.S. as the second country globally to permit the commercial distribution of lab-grown meat, also known as "cultured" or "cell-cultivated" meat.

“This announcement that we’re now able to produce and sell cultivated meat in the United States is a major moment for our company, the industry and the food system,” Josh Tetrick, the CEO of Good Meat’s parent company, said in a statement.

Lab-grown meat has already received FDA approval for the two companies, and the recent USDA approval paves the way for its commercial sale. However, the companies have decided not to introduce it to grocery stores at present due to the high production costs involved. Singapore is the only other country that permits the legal sale of lab-grown meat, while Italy has taken measures to ban its sale in order to safeguard its food heritage, as reported by the BBC.

The lab-grown meat produced by these companies will be labeled as "cell-cultivated chicken," as noted by CNBC. The companies assert that lab-grown meat offers a more environmentally sustainable alternative to traditional animal farming and ranching practices.

“GOOD Meat is real meat, made without tearing down a forest or taking a life. We’re the first and only company in the world to sell cultivated meat made from cells instead of slaughtered animals,” Good Meat said on its website.

“This approval will fundamentally change how meat makes it to our table,” Uma Valeti, CEO of Upside Foods, said. “It’s a giant step forward towards a more sustainable future — one that preserves choice and life.”

Lab-grown meat, which is distinct from vegetarian alternatives, is created by cultivating animal cells that serve as a foundation, comparable to a starter dough. These cells are nurtured and developed into meat masses within steel tanks, which are then sliced and fashioned to resemble conventional meat, as reported by Fox Business. It is anticipated that the product will be priced at over $20 per pound upon its arrival in stores. It's important to note that lab-grown meat differs from plant-based "meat" products like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat.

At the initial stage, two restaurants have joined forces with the companies to offer lab-grown food. Upside Foods' lab-grown meat will be served at Bar Crenn, a Japanese-style restaurant in San Francisco, while Good Meat's product will be available at a restaurant in Washington, D.C., as stated by the Associated Press.

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