Cell-based meat products are a step closer to retail cases and shoppers. GOOD Meat, the cultivated meat division of food tech company Eat Just, Inc., recently received a “no questions” letter from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) following the agency’s evaluation of its product.
That response was an important green light for the Lameda, Calif.-based GOOD Meat, indicating that its cell-based poultry is safe to eat. Now, the company has to clear another hurdle by securing approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
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GOOD Meat claims that it would be the first company in the United States to roll out meat produced from cells instead of live animals that are slaughtered and processed. The company was the first to have cultivated meat cleared for development and consumption in Singapore. “Since Singapore approved GOOD Meat for sale, we knew this moment was next,” said Josh Tetrick, co-founder and CEO.
According to GOOD Meat, FDA’s tacit approval came after a thorough review of documents supporting the safety and production process for the product. The company provided details literally down to the cellular level, covering the identity, purity and stability of chicken cells used to make the cultivated poultry, as well as information on the media used to grow the non-genetically modified cells.
As it awaits final clearance, GOOD Meat is preparing for a U.S. launch by teaming up with a high-profile partner. The company announced that humanitarian and chef José Andrés – the founder of World Central Kitchen and co-chair of the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutrition – plans to be the first restaurant in the country to offer GOOD Meat chicken on the menu. “The future of our planet depends on how we feed ourselves, and we have a responsibility to look beyond the horizon for smarter, sustainable ways to eat. GOOD Meat is doing just that, pushing the boundary on innovative new solutions, and I’m excited for everyone to taste the result,” said Andrés, who is also a member of the company’s board of directors.
As a testament to the future of cell-based meat at a time when sustainability and food access have become high priorities, a summit on industrializing cultivated meat and seafood is planned for July 25-27 in Boston. Companies set to participate include BlueNalu, Fork & Good, Umami Meats and the Good Food Institute; representatives from the FDA and USDA will also be on hand.
Meanwhile, UPSIDE Foods continues to work on its own cell-based meat product after receiving a similar “no questions” letter from the FDA in November. UPSIDE Foods was founded in 2015 and teamed up with the North American Meat Institute (NAMI) in 2018 to advocate for joint regulatory oversight of cultivated meat by U.S. agencies including the FDA and USDA. UPSIDE also co-founded the first trade association for cultivated meat, the Alliance of Meat, Poultry and Seafood Innovation.
As for consumer acceptance of cultivated meat, it may be gaining steam. According to a 2018-2019 survey from market research firm Mintel, 30% of consumers in the United Kingdom said they would eat lab-grown meat, up from 8% who expressed interest in in 2015.
More recent data from the 2023 "Power of Meat" report, published by FMI – The Food Industry Association and NAMI and conducted by 210 Analytics, shows nearly a third (32%) of meat eaters would be willing to try these products, compared to 52% who said they would not. Responses varied by age demographic, as 50% of Millennials reported they would try cell-based meats, versus 30% of Gen X’ers, 28% of Gen Z’ers and 16% of Boomers.