For the first time, lab-grown meat has won approval for public consumption — but only in Singapore. San Francisco-based Eat Just has developed what it calls “cultured chicken.” The startup company describes its product as “real, high-quality meat created directly from animal cells for safe human consumption.” Singapore’s Food Agency has given the okay for the sale of this new type of chicken product.
“This is a historic moment in the food system,” said Josh Tetrick, Eat Just’s chief executive. “We’ve been eating meat for thousands of years, and every time we’ve eaten meat we’ve had to kill an animal — until now.”
To gain the approval in Singapore, Eat Just had to submit a safety assessment to the Food Agency’s “novel food” working group. The group consists of seven experts on nutrition, food science, toxicology and epidemiology. Other foods that qualify as “novel” include some types of fungi, algae and insects.
In the U.S., most new ingredients don’t require the Food and Drug Administration’s approval. But lab-grown meat is an outlier. Now that Singapore has offered its approval, Eat Just hopes the U.S. and western Europe might come around to accept the new slaughter-free product. “It’s not good for what we’re trying to do to make the food system better if Singapore’s the only one that has this approval,” Tetrick said.
The first place to carry the cultured chicken nuggets will be a restaurant, but that restaurant’s identity has not yet been revealed. Tetrick said the dish will be available “soon enough to begin making a reservation.”
Not only does traditional meat involve animal suffering and death, raising livestock is not good for the environment. About 14.5% of greenhouse gas emissions come from livestock every year, mostly from methane-spewing cattle. Let’s hope that people continue to eat more protein alternatives, whether it’s high-tech cultured meat or good ol’ inexpensive beans.
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