UPSIDE Foods received preliminary approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), signaling that the agency accepts that the company’s cultivated chicken is safe to eat. This is the first regulatory approval for any cultivated meat in the U.S.
"This is a watershed moment in the history of food," said Dr. Uma Valeti, CEO and founder of UPSIDE Foods. The company was previously known as Memphis Meats.
"We started UPSIDE amid a world full of skeptics, and today, we've made history again as the first company to receive a 'No Questions' letter from the FDA for cultivated meat. This milestone marks a major step towards a new era in meat production, and I'm thrilled that U.S. consumers will soon have the chance to eat delicious meat that's grown directly from animal cells," he said.
Cultivated meat is a product derived from animal cell cultures designed to mimic the taste, texture and appearance of real animal products. Prior to the FDA announcement, Singapore is the only country to grant regulatory approval for cultivated meat products.
According to a memo from the FDA, “we have no questions at this time about UPSIDE’s conclusion that foods comprised of or containing cultured chicken cell material resulting from the production process… are as safe as comparable foods produced by other methods. Furthermore, at this time we have not identified any information indicating that the production process… would be expected to result in food that bears or contains any substance or microorganism that would adulterate the food.”
In the U.S., cultivated meat production is overseen by both the FDA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The FDA is responsible for the oversight of the growth and collection of cultured cells, while the USDA oversees the processing of any cells into meat and the labeling of any products.
UPSIDE Foods must now secure regulatory approval from the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) before cultivated chicken is available to consumers.
"Since our earliest days, our top priority has been to ensure the safety and quality of our products," said Dr. Eric Schulze, vice president of regulatory and public policy at UPSIDE Foods.
"FDA sets the standard for global acceptance of new food innovations, and we are incredibly grateful for the agency's rigorous and thoughtful process to ensure the safety of our food supply. We're also extremely proud to have played a leading role in helping to champion the framework for how cultivated meat, poultry and seafood are regulated in the U.S."