Eat Just Inc., the privately-held San Francisco company known for plant-based alternatives to egg products, has gained regulatory approval in Singapore to produce and sell lab-grown chicken meat. 

Approval by the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) came on Dec. 2.

Eat Just Inc. was founded in 2011 by Josh Tetrick and Josh Balk. Venture capitalists have fueled it with about $120 million and the company’s value topped $1 billion in 2016, making it a start-up unicorn for the venture capitalist world.

 The company claims it has developed “other cultured chicken formats that will be an extension to this product line.”

“The first-in-the-world regulatory allowance of real, high-quality meat created directly from animal cells for safe human consumption paves the way for a forthcoming small-scale commercial launch in Singapore of Eat Just’s new ‘GOOD Meat’ brand, details for which will be disclosed at a later date.” said a company statement.   

“This breakthrough for the global food industry builds on Singapore’s reputation as a world leader in business, technology, and culinary innovation and underscores the country’s dedication to enterprising solutions that advance environmental stewardship.

“Cultured meat’s role in creating a safer, more secure global food supply has been well-documented, and the last decade has given rise to a steady increase in the application of animal cell culture technology toward the development of food products. At the same time, meat production has risen dramatically, and by 2050, consumption is projected to increase over 70 percent.”

Company officials said that over the course of many months, Eat Just’s team of scientists, product developers, and regulatory experts have prepared extensive documentation on the characterization of its cultured chicken and the process to produce it. The company included details on the purity, identity and stability of chicken cells during the manufacturing process, as well as a detailed description of the manufacturing process which demonstrated that harvested cultured chicken met quality controls and a rigorous food safety monitoring system.

Eat Just reports it has demonstrated a consistent manufacturing process of their cultured chicken by running more than 20 production runs in 1,200-liter bioreactors. No antibiotics are used in this proprietary process, according to the company statement. Safety and quality validations demonstrated that harvested cultured chicken met the standards of poultry meat, with extremely low and significantly cleaner microbiological content than conventional chicken. 

The analysis also demonstrated that cultured chicken contains a high protein content, diversified amino acid composition, high relative content in healthy monounsaturated fats, and is a rich source of minerals.

The first-of-its-kind regulatory achievement involved an iterative and extensive safety review by the Singapore Food Agency (SFA), Singapore’s regulatory authority entrusted with ensuring a safe food supply. During this process, Eat Just complied with SFA’s food safety requirements for the assessment of novel foods. 

In addition, Eat Just’s cultured chicken was confirmed to be safe and nutritious for human consumption by a distinguished outside panel of international scientific authorities in Singapore and the United States, with expertise in medicine, toxicology, allergenicity, cell biology, and food safety.

Concurrent to the consultation and review period, Eat Just formed strategic partnerships with well-established local manufacturers in Singapore to produce cultured chicken cells and formulate the finished product ahead of its historic sale to a restaurant and, ultimately, initial availability to consumers. The company has been impressed with the caliber of local partners helping to make GOOD Meat a strategic reality and further positioning Singapore as the Asia-Pacific region’s hub for food innovation.

“Singapore has long been a leader in innovation of all kinds, from information technology to biologics to now leading the world in building a healthier, safer food system. I’m sure that our regulatory approval for cultured meat will be the first of many in Singapore and in countries around the globe. Working in partnership with the broader agriculture sector and forward-thinking policymakers, companies like ours can help meet the increased demand for animal protein as our population climbs to 9.7 billion by 2050,” said Josh Tetrick, co-founder and CEO of Eat Just.

The announcement is Eat Just’s second in Singapore this year. In October, the company unveiled a partnership with a consortium led by Proterra Investment Partners Asia Pte. Ltd. (“Proterra Asia”), an investment management firm focused on the food and agribusiness sectors, to build and operate a plant protein production facility in Singapore to meet the demand for Eat Just’s plant-based “JUST Egg” products across Asia.

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here)