By Danielle Wiener-Bronner, CNN
New York (CNN) — Cultivated meat, also known as lab-grown meat, has been cleared for sale in the United States.
Upside Foods and Good Meat, two companies that make what they call “cultivated chicken,” said Wednesday that they have gotten approval from the US Department of Agriculture to start producing their cell-based proteins.
Good Meat, which is owned by plant-based egg substitute maker Eat Just, said that production is starting immediately. Cultivated or lab-grown meat is grown in a giant vat, much like what you’d find at a beer brewery.
Wednesday’s move follows a series of previous approvals which have paved the way for sales of cultivated meat in the US.
Last week, Good Meat and Upside said they had received approval for labels for its product from the USDA. In March, Good said it had received a so-called “no questions” letter from the Food and Drug Administration. That letter states that the administration is satisfied that the product is safe to sell in the United States. The FDA issued a similar letter Upside Foods in November.
The nascent cultivated meat sector is being overseen by both the USDA and the FDA.
Good Meat, which has been selling its products in Singapore, advertises its product as “meat without slaughter,” a more humane approach to eating meat. Supporters hope that cultured meat will help fight climate change by reducing the need for traditional animal agriculture, which emits greenhouse gases.
The company had previously announced that it was partnering with chef and restaurateur José Andrés to bring the item to a Washington, DC restaurant. It is working with his team on a launch but doesn’t have specific information on timing at this point, according to a company spokesperson. As production ramps up, Good Meat may consider partnering with other restaurants or launching in retail, he added.
The regulatory hurdle cleared Wednesday is called a “grant of inspection,” which is issued by the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. Applications for such a grant “are approved following a rigorous process, which includes assessing a firm’s food safety system,” an FSIS spokesperson said Wednesday.
“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, co-founder and CEO of Good Meat and Eat Just, said in a statement Wednesday.
Upside founder and CEO Uma Valeti on Wednesday called the approval “a giant step forward towards a more sustainable future,” adding that it will “fundamentally change how meat makes it to our table.”
Upside is planning to introduce its product at Bar Crenn, a San Francisco restaurant, but did not share a launch date yet. Selling at Bar Crenn should help Upside learn more about how chefs and diners feel about the product, a representative said. Eventually, the company plans to work with other restaurants and make its products available in supermarkets.
For now, Upside is holding a contest to allow curious customers to be among the first to try the product in the US.
— CNN’s Katie Hunt contributed to this report.
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