Food Safety Approves Artificial Meat Production Method

There are already pure “viandars”, flexitarians, vegetarians, vegans… We may soon have to invent another term to describe those who eat artificial meat. Pure science fiction fantasy? Not at all, because the American start-up Upside Foods, which cultivates animal cells for meat production without killing animals, received the green light for its production methods from the US Food Safety Authority (FDA) on Wednesday.

“We introduced Upside to a world of skeptics, and today we’re making history again by being the first company to receive this letter from the FDA for lab-grown meat,” said Uma Valeti, the co-founder and CEO, as quoted in a press release of the Californian company.

Far from vegetarian “steaks”

“This is an important step toward a new era in meat production, and I’m excited that American consumers will soon have the opportunity to eat delicious meat made directly from animal cells,” he said. In practice, Upside Foods still faces many hurdles, including inspections by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, before it can sell its products.

The FDA has “carefully” evaluated the company’s data and information on its methods and has “no further questions at this time about its conclusions regarding safety,” the agency said in a separate press release. But “this consultation does not constitute an approval process,” specifies the authority.

Several start-ups aim to produce and market so-called “laboratory” or artificial meat to enable people to consume animal protein with less environmental impact than intensive farming and no animal suffering. These products differ from plant-based substitutes like soy-based “steaks” and other ingredients that mimic the texture and flavor of meat but contain no animal protein.

Start-up Eat Just, a competitor to Upside Foods, became the first to receive approval to market artificial meat in Singapore in 2020. Last May it signed an agreement with an equipment maker to develop giant vats in which it would produce chicken and beef on a large scale.

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