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posted by janrinok on Tuesday November 22, @06:24AM   Printer-friendly

Lab-Grown Meat Moves One Step Closer to Reality With FDA Green Light

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has moved one step closer to allowing sales of laboratory cultured meat products, announcing it has completed a pre-market consultation with Upside Foods. The company says its lab-grown chicken is safe to eat, and now the FDA has agreed. Upside Foods can now begin the process of getting products certified for sale to consumers, but instead of perusing a slaughterhouse, government regulators will be inspecting a shiny lab filled with vats of cultured chicken cells.

Upside Foods says it was among the first startups to tackle lab-grown meat when it was founded in 2015. It spent the last seven years developing its production technology and accepting funding to keep the lights on, including a huge $400 million Series C round earlier this year. In its statements to the FDA, Upside Foods claimed there is no reason to expect chicken cells cultured in its production facility are any less safe than the cells growing inside chickens. After a year of study, the FDA now believes Upside has enough data to support that claim.

This is an important milestone, but it's not the same as giving Upside the green light to stuff consumers full of lab-grown animal cells. The company will have to go through the same inspection system as traditional food producers, including granting access to USDA officials who will ensure materials for human consumption meet safety standards. The FDA says it will work with the USDA as these products come to market to develop effective regulations and labeling requirements.

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  • (Score: 2) by mhajicek on Tuesday November 22, @09:38AM (4 children)

    by mhajicek (51) on Tuesday November 22, @09:38AM (#1280999)

    It's going to be hard to get this below the price of animal chicken, and I think that would be the tipping point for adoption for most people.

    The spacelike surfaces of time foliations can have a cusp at the surface of discontinuity. - P. Hajicek
    • (Score: 2) by driverless on Tuesday November 22, @10:53AM (2 children)

      by driverless (4770) on Tuesday November 22, @10:53AM (#1281004)

      Another issue is that, at least the last time I looked about two years ago, it was still pretty much impossible to get anything close to the texture of real meat. And that's not just "we don't have the tech to do it now", it's "we don't even know which direction we should be heading in to get something close to grown meat". So saying the FDA has given permission to sell the stuff is about the same as my wife agreeing to a threesome with Taylor Swift any time I can set one up.

      • (Score: 4, Insightful) by takyon on Tuesday November 22, @12:33PM (1 child)

        by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {}> on Tuesday November 22, @12:33PM (#1281011) Journal


        There are absolutely enormous amounts of meat on the market that can be replaced even if they completely fail to replicate any sort of texture. Chicken nuggets, low-quality breaded chicken patties, the pork/chicken meatballs I recently bought, etc. all contain mechanically separated chicken which is just complete mush compared to a chicken breast/tenderloin. Similarly, lab grown beef could probably make its way into anything that used ground beef. Think all the Taco Bell tacos and McDonald's hamburgers. Maybe they still have a problem with fat cells, I don't know.

        That said, if it can't be scaled up to match and beat traditional meat on cost, it is completely useless in those areas. Lack of animal suffering isn't going to make up for a 1.5-10x price difference to people who didn't care in the first place. Maybe if it gets close but is still slightly more expensive, traditional meat (for the masses) will be legislated out of existence on the basis of reducing emissions, energy/land/water use, etc.

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        • (Score: 2) by driverless on Wednesday November 23, @04:02AM

          by driverless (4770) on Wednesday November 23, @04:02AM (#1281202)

          Ah, good point, it's replacing pink slime and mystery meat, not steak and pork medallions. And given that a lot of "meat" is already more substitute than animal products (sausages and similar, and I believe in the US pink slime was reclassified as "ground beef" a few years ago) they probably don't have to aim terribly high for that market.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by richtopia on Tuesday November 22, @03:12PM

      by richtopia (3160) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday November 22, @03:12PM (#1281039) Homepage Journal

      The future is difficult to predict. The USA has sufficient resources to be largely self-sufficient, but much of the world heavily depends on imports for daily life. Oil, water, food type stuff. Two major threats exist: global warming (impacting food and water) and potentially the USA becoming isolationist (and no longer policing shipping lanes or encouraging free trade).

      I don't mean this post to turn political, so let's just explore the ramifications that water scarcity becomes real for large swaths of the population. If this last summer became the norm you could see desertification in some very populated regions. And while crops consume a lot of water, animals eating those crops take more. I doubt meat will become taboo in western society, but I could see it rapidly increasing in price.

      If the lab grown meat has less input resources, even if the labour or energy input is increased it could compete in a world where cows lack grazing land. There are a lot of ifs and extrapolations in this post, but I could see this product be developed as a niche application (vegans with money) then expand in the future as the world changes.

  • (Score: 2) by oumuamua on Tuesday November 22, @02:43PM (3 children)

    by oumuamua (8401) on Tuesday November 22, @02:43PM (#1281031)

    Works for everything else, who could resist a Taylor Swift rump steak cloned from her very cells?
    yeah, they already made a movie about it []

    • (Score: 2) by richtopia on Tuesday November 22, @03:15PM

      by richtopia (3160) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday November 22, @03:15PM (#1281043) Homepage Journal

      A less extreme version is more exotic animals. Has anyone had whale? I've met cows and they are morons, but the cetaceans I've interacted with are really intelligent and I would struggle to eat. That doesn't mean I'm not curious how they taste...

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, @03:31PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, @03:31PM (#1281047)

      Russell Greer would love that steak.

    • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Tuesday November 22, @05:53PM

      by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday November 22, @05:53PM (#1281098) Journal

      Will it come with an assurance that it is Free Range lab grown steak?

      I get constant rejection even though the compiler is supposed to accept constants.