Americans could soon be eating chicken that’s grown in a lab from cultured animal cells, rather than raised at a farm or facility.
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration announced Wednesday 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 as our priority the production of safe food,” 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 to grow those cells in a controlled environment.
The business walked the FDA through its production process, establishment of cell lines and cell banks, manufacturing controls, and all components and inputs.
Before its products are approved for sale, Upside still needs a grant of inspection from the United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS) for its manufacturing facility, according to the FDA. The food itself will also require a mark of inspection from USDA-FSIS.
The FDA is closely coordinating with USDA-FSIS to make sure the food would be properly regulated and labeled.
UPSIDE Foods CEO and founder Dr. Uma Valeti, who is also 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.
The company’s California facility can produce more than 50,000 pounds of chicken yearly, CBS News reported.
Now, 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.
Multiple firms that are working on various foods using cultured animal cells are already talking with the FDA, according to the agency. This includes food made from seafood cells, which the FDA would solely oversee.