Lab-grown meat to feature on restaurant menu for the first time

The chicken nuggets that American startup Eat Just created in fermentation tanks will soon be available at a restaurant in Singapore, as the world’s first lab-grown meat to be approved for sale.

the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) rated Eat Just cultured chicken as safe for human consumption this week.

Singapore is the first nation to grant regulatory approval for cultured meat

Described by the company as a “breakthrough for the global food industry,” it paves the way for Eat Just chicken bites and other “cultured chicken formats” to be offered at a partner restaurant in Singapore in a near future. This makes Singapore the first nation to grant regulatory approval for cultured meat.

Laboratory-grown meat, also known as clean meat, does not consist of dead animals but cells taken from living animals, which are then made into a meat product in a laboratory.

Above: Eat Just is also developing a farmed chicken fillet. Top image: Chicken bites will soon be available at a Singapore restaurant

The move comes after a two-year approval process, in which Eat Just completed more than 20 production runs in a 1,200-liter bioreactor to prove it could manufacture its farmed chicken to quality standards. and constant security.

According to the company, tests found that farmed chicken had an “extremely low and significantly cleaner” microbiological content than real chicken, which may contain bacteria transferred from the gut, skin and legs of birds. .

An independent panel also assessed the nutritional value of the meat, judging it to be high in protein and low in saturated fat, just like regular chicken.

The company is currently working with a local restaurant to develop a menu and sides for cultured chicken, which is expected to be priced comparable to “premium chicken in a high-end restaurant”.

Tech start-ups rush to sell lab-grown meat substitutes

Other food technology companies are also aiming to commercialize cultured meat. Rival Israeli startup last month Super Meat open what he calls the world’s first cultured meat restaurant in Tel Aviv. His lab-grown chicken is being offered free to diners in exchange for feedback, as it has yet to be approved for sale.

The alternatives come as the consumption of meat continues to increase. It is projected from increase by more than 70 percent in 2050, despite the fact that livestock farming for the meat and dairy industry already represents 14.5 percent annual greenhouse gas emissions around the world, while consuming natural resources like land and water.

“By working in partnership with the wider agricultural sector and forward-thinking policymakers, companies like ours can help meet the growing demand for animal protein as our population reaches 9.7 billion by 2050” said Josh Tetrick, co-founder and CEO of Eat Just.

Cultured meat supporters argue it’s better for the environment

Supporters of the burgeoning cultured meat industry argue that it is able to produce a comparable product in a more sustainable and cruelty-free manner as it almost entirely eliminates the need to feed, water and slaughter. animals.

Cultivated meat requires 99% less land use than conventional meat production, as well as up to 96% lower water consumption and greenhouse gas emissions depending on the type of meat, according to a study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Since lab-grown meat is currently manufactured on such a small scale, it requires more energy than poultry farming. But the hope is that this will be alleviated with the shift to mass production.

Industry critics also point out that cultured meat, including the version that has been approved by the SFA, relies on fetal bovine serum (FBS) as a high protein supplement to turn animal cells into a product. edible.

FBS is derived from the blood of a fetal calf, normally after its dam has been slaughtered for human consumption, meaning that the process of producing the meat is not entirely humane or slaughter-free, although much of the serum is removed by the harvesting and washing process.

A spokesperson for Eat Just told Dezeen that the company had already developed a recipe for “animal-free” nutrients to nourish harvested cells and successfully created cultured chicken using this formula. But that will have to go through a similar regulatory approval process before it can be sold to the public.

In a playful critique of the cultured meat industry’s use of FBS, a group of American scientists developed a concept for a do-it-yourself human steak kit called Oubouros Steak, in which animal cells are substituted. to those of the restaurant. Industrial designer Grace Knight, who worked on the project, told Dezeen it was “technically” not cannabilism.

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