US Approves Chicken Meat Grown in a Laboratory

    27 June 2023

    U.S. government officials have approved meat that is grown from cells in a laboratory to be sold in restaurants and food stores.

    Companies have been developing "lab-grown" meat for years. But the California-based companies Upside Foods and Good Meat are the first to have their products approved by the Department of Agriculture. Chicken is the only "lab-grown" meat permitted in the United States. However, lab-grown meat from cattle, pigs and sheep might be available soon.

    Supporters of lab-grown meat say it does not require killing or hurting animals. They also say it reduces the effects that feeding animals and animal waste have on the environment.

    Chef Zach Tyndall prepares Good Meat's cultivated chicken at the Eat Just office in Alameda, California, June 14, 2023.(AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
    Chef Zach Tyndall prepares Good Meat's cultivated chicken at the Eat Just office in Alameda, California, June 14, 2023.(AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

    Production of meat grown in a laboratory begins by taking cells from fertilized eggs. The cells are combined with nutrients that support their growth in steel tanks.

    Upside Foods's lab-grown meat is created in large sheets, which are then formed into final products. Good Meat transforms cells into several chicken products. The company's products are already available in Singapore, the first country to permit lab-grown meat.

    Lab-grown meat is different from plant-based meat such as Impossible Burgers. Those products are made from plant materials. Researchers consider lab-grown meat to be "real" meat.

    Company representatives say the lab grown chicken seems like real meat.

    Amy Chen is Upside Foods's chief operating officer. She told the Associated Press: "The most common response we get is, ‘Oh, it tastes like chicken.'"

    However, lab-grown meat is very costly, so it will not be available in grocery stores any time soon. Restaurants are expected to begin serving "lab-grown" meat within two to five years. Experts say it might be available in supermarkets in seven to 10 years.

    Both companies have stated that lab-grown meat production will be limited in the coming years. For example, Upside Foods can produce about 22,680 kilograms of lab-grown meat a year. For comparison, the Department of Agriculture says the U.S. produced about 27 billion kilograms of chicken in 2021.

    Officials expect the price of lab-grown meat to be about $44 per kilogram. Critics argue that, at such a high price, only rich people will be able to purchase lab-grown meat.

    Ricardo San Martin is director of the Alt: Meat Lab, part of the University of California, Berkeley. Martin told the Associated Press: "If some high-end or affluent people want to eat this instead of a chicken, it's good." Then he added, "Will that mean you will feed chicken to poor people? I honestly don't see it."

    Martin said he is concerned that if only a small number of people eat lab-grown meat, it will have little effect on the environment.

    I'm Caty Weaver.

    The Associated Press reported this story. Dominic Varela adapted the report for VOA Learning English.


    Words in This Story

    sheet – n. a thin, flat, usually rectangular piece of some substance

    high-end – adj. (marketing) more costly than similar products

    response – n. an act or instance of replying; answer

    affluent –adj. rich; wealthy; having a lot of money and owning many things