Mar 21, 2023
Chicken Grown in Bioreactors Clears First US Regulatory Hurdle
(Bloomberg) -- Alternative foods startup Eat Just Inc. cleared an initial regulatory hurdle to selling chicken grown in bioreactors to the American public.
The US Food and Drug Administration told the company in a letter on Tuesday it had no questions about the company’s conclusion that its chicken grown from animal cells is safe to eat. Eat Just must also gain approvals from the US Department of Agriculture. It will also have to continue to meet FDA requirements.
While it’s an important step forward, Eat Just still has to clear a number of other obstacles before it can start mass commercial sales of the product in the US, including the production of cell-based meat at scale and meeting additional regulatory requirements. The USDA, for example, will need to approve the company’s proposed commercial manufacturing facilities.
“The letter means that following a careful and rigorous evaluation, the FDA has accepted the company’s conclusion that its first poultry product, cultivated chicken, is safe to eat,” Eat Just said in a statement.
The Alameda, California-based startup announced its approval in December 2020 to market lab-grown chicken in Singapore, after the country became the first to green light cultured meat for human consumption. It started selling small amounts of its chicken there, making it the only company that has sold products made from animal cells grown in bioreactors to the public.
Cultivated, or cell-based, meat is created by harvesting cells from live animals and providing them with nutrients so they’ll grow in bioreactors and then taking additional steps to turn the cells into a consumer-ready meat product.
Upside Foods Inc., another California-based startup, was the first company in the US to clear the initial regulatory hurdle that can lead to sales of cultivated chicken. It received an FDA letter related to its product in November 2022.
Eat Just, which also makes plant-based eggs, has raised more than $850 million in total, including $267 million in 2021 specifically for GOOD Meat, its cell-meat subsidiary. In late 2021, it announced the addition of chef and humanitarian José Andrés to its board. Andrés also pledged to include the company’s chicken on one of his menus after it is fully approved. He will be the first to feature it, the company has said, and Andrés expects to add it to multiple locations in his portfolio of more than 30 restaurants.
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