The Future. Two firms have received approval from US regulators to sell “lab-grown” chicken — the first green light of its kind. The hope is that meat made from animal cells can cut down on the carbon footprint of the agricultural industry and bring less harm to the environment. The rollout could give customers who haven’t been won over by the plant-based tastes of Impossible Burger or Beyond Meat an alternative menu option that prioritizes sustainability.
Petri to plate
The US Agriculture Department is letting customers choose whether they want chicken raised on a farm or grown in a lab.
- Both UPSIDE Foods and GOOD Meat were awarded approval to sell their lab-grown (aka “cell-cultivated” or “cultured”) chicken in the US.
- The FDA has also already deemed their products — which “come from a living animal, a fertilized egg, or a special bank of stored cells,” per AP — safe to eat.
But it turns out that lab-grown chicken is super expensive, especially since it can’t be produced at scale… at least not quite yet. So, customers will first see it on the menu in high-end restaurants — UPSIDE will be available at San Francisco’s Bar Crenn, while GOOD Meat will be available at an eatery in Washington, DC operated by renowned chef, José Andrés.
And although over 150 companies are working on lab-grown meats, none are likely to come to the mass market (i.e., your grocery store) for at least seven years. And when they do, will people be ready to taste them? An Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll found that about half of US adults would opt out because “it just sounds weird.”