As expected, USDA has followed Singapore by approving for the United States, the growth by two companies of animal cells into chicken products that one day might be sold to consumers.

USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service is granting inspections to two companies. It also issued instructions to its inspection program personnel (IPP) about their roles and responsibilities with regard to inspection and verification activities in establishments that harvest or process so-called cell-cultured meat or poultry food products for human food.

FSIS cited these “key points.”

  • FDA and FSIS jointly oversee the production of cell-cultured meat and poultry food products and share information necessary to carry out their respective oversight responsibilities.
  • Establishments that harvest cells for cell-cultured meat and poultry food products are dual jurisdiction establishments (DJE).
  • Cell-cultured meat and poultry food products are subject to the same FSIS regulatory requirements and oversight authority as meat and poultry food products derived from the slaughter of amenable species.
  • Labels applied to any FSIS-regulated products comprised of or containing cell-cultured meat and poultry food products are not eligible for generic approval.

As for now, USDA is allowing two California companies, Upside Foods and Good Meat, to pursue in laboratory settings the growth of meat from animal cells. USDA and FDA are partners in the regulation of lab-grown meat. FDA earlier found the products from both companies are safe to eat.

Animal cell culture technology for lab-grown meat and poultry is a production process used to produce meat and poultry food products without much slaughter activity by growing the cells of livestock or poultry in a controlled environment, such as a bioreactor, and then harvesting those cells to grow food,

If consumers warm to it, lab-grown meat and poultry could bankrupt countless farms and ranches let alone the entire production industry. But if consumers don’t like the alternatives, the fortunes invested in lab-grown products could go the way of “New Coke.” So, there is a lot at stake over whether consumers will accept meat grown in a petri dish.

At this point, consumers are not going to see much from all the lab work. Lab-grown chicken is really expensive chicken, making large-scale production unrealistic. Public availability in a couple of upscale restaurants will likely be found long before lab-grown products show up in any grocery store or Chick-Fil-A.

These attempts at lab-growth meat and poultry are reported involve more than 150 companies worldwide doing experiments on chicken, pork, lamb, fish, and beef.

The two lab-based companies that now have USDA inspection and with it, the ability to sell the food products they produce are:

  • Berkeley-based Upside Foods; and
  • Alameda-based Good Meat Co., with the affiliated John Biologics.

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