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Lab-grown chicken declared safe by US FDA

“Slaughter-free” chicken — made from real animal cells grown in laboratories — could be coming soon to a restaurant and grocery store near you.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced on November 16 that the lab-grown poultry, which takes living cells from chickens and grows them in a controlled environment to produce the meat, was safe for human consumption, and that it had “no further questions” about the product’s safety. This is the first “No Questions” letter from the FDA for lab-grown meat, poultry, or seafood.

The voluntary premarket consultation is not an approval process, but it is an important first hurdle that the company needed to clear. In the United States, cultivated meat is regulated by both the FDA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

UPSIDE Foods, the California company that produces the meat, will now work with the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) to secure the remaining approvals that are required before the cultivated chicken can be available to consumers, according to a company release.

The approval process may take months, and it’s likely that meat products will be found on menus through chef and restaurant partners of the company before it’s sold in grocery stores.

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Michelin-starred chef Dominique Crenn has already announced that she will serve Upside Foods’ cultivated chicken at her restaurant Atelier Crenn in San Francisco.

“This is a watershed moment in the history of food,” said Uma Valeti, MD, CEO and Founder of UPSIDE Foods, in the press release. “We started UPSIDE amid a world full of skeptics, and today, we’ve made history again as the first company to receive a ‘No Questions’ letter from the FDA for cultivated meat,” he says. U.S. consumers will soon have the chance to eat delicious meat that’s grown directly from animal cells, said Dr. Valeti.

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