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Eat Just's GOOD Meat clears penultimate USDA hurdle to bring its cultivated chicken to market

June 15, 2023

While all the fanfare yesterday was for UPSIDE Foods and its regulatory approval from the US Department of Agriculture for the label on its cell-cultivated chicken – and quite rightly so – in actual fact, UPSIDE was just the first to announce its approval. On 8 June, California-based GOOD Meat, the cultivated meat division of food-tech company, Eat Just, became the first company to receive the same clearance, albeit the company stated that it was awaiting a site inspection from USDA, the final step in the regulatory approval process before their cultivated chicken can go to market.

“We’ve had several months of productive conversations with the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service and their District Office and appreciate their thoughtfulness throughout this regulatory process. Building on our previous cultivated meat industry firsts, this historic US label approval is yet another step toward building a safer and more sustainable food system,” said Josh Tetrick, co-founder and CEO of GOOD Meat and Eat Just.

Although GOOD Meat and most of the industry prefer the term 'cultivated', the initial label uses the term 'cell-cultivated'.

The USA joins Singapore as a global leader in creating a regulatory pathway to market for real, safe, high-quality meat produced directly from animal cells. It’s a pioneering process that, in partnership with the broader agricultural community, can help meet the growing global demand for safe, sustainable protein. Some analysts predict cultivated meat could become a US$25 billion global industry by 2030.

Once GOOD Meat receives that final USDA green light, world-renowned chef and humanitarian José Andrés, will become the first in the country to offer GOOD Meat’s chicken to customers at a restaurant in Washington, D.C. Chef Andrés is chef/owner of José Andrés Group, which operates more than 30 restaurants across the country.

Ultimately, it doesn't really matter who is first past the post –  the important thing is that the US government clearly has no issues with cultivated meat. It might still be 2024 or later before we see it sitting alongside conventional meat products in US supermarkets, although it is likely that, similar to Singapore, it could be sold first in fine butcheries.

GOOD Meat won several regulatory approvals for its chicken in Singapore in 2020, 2021, and 2023, and it remains the only cultivated meat producer in the world with the ability to sell to consumers. Since its launch, the company’s chicken has been featured on menus at fine dining establishments, popular hawker stalls, via the foodpanda delivery platform, and most recently by reservation at Huber’s Butchery, one of Singapore’s premier producers and suppliers of high-quality meats.

According to consumer research conducted by a leading global management consulting firm on behalf of GOOD Meat, 70% of Singaporeans who tried GOOD Meat’s cultivated chicken said it tasted as good or better than conventional chicken. Nearly 90% of those diners said they would substitute conventional chicken with cultivated chicken. Approximately 90% of restaurant operators said they would be open to selling cultivated meat, and most said they could envision cultivated meat replacing conventional meat on menus within a decade. Singapore, though, doesn't have the powerful meat lobby that exists in the USA. How individual states such as Montana and Texas will view these USDA clearances is another matter entirely.

GOOD Meat received its FDA clearance in March 2023. Its 'No Questions' letter meant that after a careful and rigorous evaluation, the FDA accepted the company’s conclusion that its first poultry product, cultivated chicken, is safe to eat. The company provided details on the identity, purity and stability of chicken cells used as well as a thorough description of its consistent, robust, and scalable process, which does not require antibiotics at any stage. The submission included an in-depth safety review of the media used to grow its non-genetically modified cells. Safety and quality validations submitted by GOOD Meat demonstrated that harvested cultivated chicken met poultry microbiological and purity standards, with microbiological levels significantly cleaner than conventional chicken. The analysis also demonstrated that GOOD Meat's cultivated chicken contains high protein content, a well-balanced amino acid profile and is a rich source of minerals.

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