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California startup Upside Foods just cleared a major hurdle in bringing its lab-cultured chicken to a sandwich near you. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said in a press release published Wednesday that the agency had completed its “first pre-market consultation of a human food made from cultured animal cells.”
The FDA cleared Upside to continue creating meat products with its animal cell culture technology. Though the company still needs approval to sell its lab-grown chicken (or seafood or meat), the FDA has concluded by analyzing how Upside produces its meat that it is safe for consumption. The agency does not question its safety.
This is a significant step forward for producers of meat grown from cultured cells. Upside Foods founder Uma Valeti said in a statement that the company has “made history … as the first company to receive a ‘No Questions’ letter from the FDA for cultivated meat.”
“This milestone marks a major step towards a new era in meat production,” Valeti said, “and I’m thrilled that U.S. consumers will soon have the chance to eat delicious meat that’s grown directly from animal cells.”
Upside Foods still has another major milestone to go, however, to receive permission to sell its product. In addition to FDA approval, the company also needs approval from the Food Safety and Inspection Service, which is under the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).