Good Meat, the cultivated meat unit of Eat Just, completed the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s pre-market consultation for its production method, and the agency concluded this week that it had “no questions.”
“We have no questions at this time regarding Good Meat’s conclusion that foods comprised of or containing cultured chicken cell material resulting from the production process defined in CCC 000001 are as safe as comparable foods produced by other methods,” according to the FDA letter dated March 20 to the company.
This means that Good Meat’s cultivated chicken was accepted as a product safe for humans to eat.
Following those approvals, Good Meat’s initial plans are to work with chef José Andrés to sell the company’s chicken in one of his Washington, D.C. restaurants.
“It’s a pivotal moment for Good Meat that’s been years in the making and it’s a crucial step toward creating an industry that can help transform our food system,” Josh Tetrick, co-founder and CEO of Good Meat, told TechCrunch via email. “We are working with the USDA to clear the last hurdle, and then our chicken is ready for plating, at a modest scale to start.”
Good Meat is the second company to receive the “no questions” clearance from the FDA. Upside Foods, which also produces cultivated chicken, received its regulatory “thumbs up” in November.
McKinsey analysts predict the cultivated meat industry, which makes meat from animal cells-fed growth factors, is likely to reach $25 billion in value by 2030. The cultivated-meat method is also estimated to cut greenhouse gas emissions by up to 96% via less water, land use and energy over the traditional way of using animals to make meat.
Dozens of companies, both in the U.S. and elsewhere, are working on cultivated, or cell-cultured, meat products, but have to receive approval from both the FDA and U.S. Department of Agriculture before commercializing their products in the United States.
Challenges still facing this industry include cost and time. For example, the growth medium needed to feed the cells can cost from hundreds to thousands of dollars per liter. Some companies are working to reduce this cost, and providing the infrastructure, so that the price of the finished product is closer to that of traditional meat and more meat can be produced faster.
Good Meat was the first company to get regulatory approval in Singapore to sell its product in 2020. This year, TechCrunch also reported that the company received regulatory approval from the Singapore Food Agency to use serum-free media for the production of its cultivated meat.
Tetrick expects a similar acceptance level to what the company has seen in Singapore, where he said taste-testing resulted in 70% of Singaporeans saying Good Meat’s chicken “tasted as good or better than conventional chicken.”
“Selling in Singapore has been a great way to see how consumers in the real world react to cultivated meat,” he said. “Some are excited and ready to dig in. Some are more hesitant and want to learn more as they sit down to eat it. But after they finish their meal, the result is universally the same. They say ‘wow, that tastes like chicken,’ and that’s exactly the response we want.”
In the U.S., Good Meat has started the consumer education process, and while Tetrick said there will be challenges as it enters the market, its exposure in Singapore has helped in introducing the concept of cultivated meat.
Meanwhile, Rosie Wardle, co-founder and partner at Synthesis Capital, and an investor in Upside Foods, said via email that “clearance from the FDA is another positive milestone in the advancement of the cultivated meat industry, and illustrates the U.S. government’s leadership on food security and climate issues.”
“We expect further regulatory developments throughout 2023, including additional FDA clearances for other companies in the sector, and progress with USDA,” Wardle added. “We look forward to the first tasting of cultivated chicken in U.S. restaurants later this year.”
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