"The approval is one of the most significant milestones in the food industry"

Vox reports that Singapore has become the first country to approve the sale of lab-grown chicken products.

Produced by American company Eat Just, ‘chicken bites’ have passed a safety review by the Singapore Food Agency.

Eat Just’s products are grown in a 1,200-litre bioreactor before being combined with plant-based ingredients. Cells are taken from biopsies of live animals, eliminating the need to slaughter chickens.

Foetal bovine serum, extracted from foetal blood, is used as a growth medium for the Singapore production line. The extract is largely removed before consumption. A plant-based serum is planned to be used next in the production line.

The bites will be sold in a restaurant in Singapore but the company stated that initial availability would be limited.

Eat Just also said the chicken-alternative will be significantly more expensive than regular chicken but once production is scaled up, ‘chicken bites’ will be ultimately cheaper.

Josh Tetrick, of Eat Just, said, “I think the approval is one of the most significant milestones in the food industry in the last handful of decades. It’s an open door and it’s up to us and other companies to take that opportunity. My hope is this leads to a world in the next handful of years where the majority of meat doesn’t require killing a single animal or tearing down a single tree.”

However, Tetrick highlighted challenges ahead. “Is it different? For sure. Our hope is through transparent communication with consumers, what this is and how it compares to conventional meat, we’re able to win. But it’s not a guarantee.”

“If we want to serve the entire country of Singapore, and eventually bring it to elsewhere in the world, we need to move to 10,000-litre or 50,000-litre-plus bioreactors,” Tetrick said.

Carsten Gerhard from global consultancy AT Kearney added, “approval in an innovation hotspot like Singapore already in 2020 could fast-forward market entry in other developed nations. In the long run we are convinced that cultured meat will address the health and environmental impact issues that traditional meat has when produced in a highly industrialised way.”

“The [Eat Just approval] is a very big deal for the future of meat production globally,” said Bruce Friedrich, at the non-profit Good Food Institute in the US. “A new space race for the future of food is under way.”

“It seems certain that similar products from other companies will follow,” he said. “There has been so much hype on cell-cultured meat that the anticipated first steps to mass sales is a significant moment.”

“We believe the market potential for cultured meat is vast, as consumers in general continue to show great enthusiasm for the taste and nutritional benefits of animal products. Of course, our view is that real animal products will better meet these needs, but healthy competition is welcome.”

In other news, a Singaporean mother who contracted Coronavirus has given birth to a baby with virus antibodies.