Singapore issues first regulatory approval for lab-grown meat to Eat JustDecember 1, 2020
Josh Tetrick, CEO of Eat Just, had at least one thing to be grateful for this Thanksgiving: Regulators in Singapore had issued the company the world’s first approval for its cultured meats.
The decision paves the way for Eat Just, which is best known for its plant-based egg substitute, to sell its lab-grown chicken as an ingredient in Singapore. And it will also likely draw more competitors to the Southeast Asian country and could prompt other countries to follow Singapore’s lead.
“A new space race for the future of food is underway,” Good Food Institute Executive Director Bruce Friedrich said in a statement.
In the last decade, dozens of start-ups have sought to make cell-cultured meat both tasty and affordable with the end goal of persuading consumers to turn their backs on conventional meat. Similar to the makers of plant-based meat alternatives, start-ups such as Eat Just, Future Meat Technologies and the Bill Gates-backed Memphis Meats argue that their products are healthier for consumers and better for the environment.
“We think that [the way] to really solve the meat problem — which is a health problem, a deforestation problem, a morality problem — is to make animal protein,” Tetrick said in an interview.
Eat Just landed at No. 21 on CNBC’s Disruptor 50 list this year for its efforts to change the food and agriculture industries. The company has raised $300 million and was last valued at $1.2 billion.
Cultured meat is made by putting stem cells from the fat or muscle of an animal into a culture medium that feeds the cells, allowing them to grow. The medium is then put into a bioreactor to support the cells’ growth. Tetrick compared the process to brewing beer, with a very different end product.
Eat Just has been working toward gaining approval from the Singapore Food Agency for about two years. To do so, it had to meet food safety requirements for novel foods and demonstrate a consistent manufacturing process for the cell-cultured chicken. Safety and quality inspections determined that it also met the standards for poultry meat.
The product has a high protein content and a diversified amino acid composition, no antibiotics and very low microbiological content, such as salmonella and E. coli.
Eat Just is going through other regulatory processes to get its cultured meat approved elsewhere in the world, including the United States. What set Singapore apart from the others, according to Tetrick, was its “forward-thinking and rigorous” approach. The Good Food Institute, which advocates for alternative proteins, said that it’s been meeting with Singaporean government officials to discuss cultured meat for more than three years.
But in the U.S., regulatory approval for cultured meat seems much further away. The Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have officially overseen the regulation of cell-based seafood, poultry and beef since 2019. But, like plant-based meat, the products will face opposition from traditional…