a food revolution is on its way; Food safety and process related technology

It’s a food revolution in the making. But this does not happen on the farm. Instead, it happens in laboratories where cells from live chickens, cows, or other livestock are grown in bioreactors similar to those that make beer. This is where they are immersed in a carefully curated nutrient solution that stimulates them to grow until they become chunks of meat.

An important part of this is that no animals need to be killed.

As science fiction as this may sound, this is the same process that occurs naturally in cell reproduction and tissue growth processes in living animals. The end product is not “fake meat” as it is sometimes called, but real meat.

In this case, lab chicken made by UPSIDE Foods (https://upsidefoods.com/about/) in California and is at the forefront of the food revolution happening here in the States.

“Our chicken looks, cooks, and tastes like chicken because it’s real chicken,” says one of the company’s websites.

In a breakthrough announcement last week, cultured meat maker UPSIDE Foods said it had received the green light from the FDA for its chicken grown from animal cells. This is the first regulatory approval for any meat grown in the United States.


“This is a truly historic milestone that we’ve been working towards since founding the company in 2015,” said cardiologist Uma Valeti, MD, CEO and founder of UPSIDE Foods. “It marks a major step into a new era in meat production and brings us closer to our ultimate goal of making meat a force for good. This green light clears the way for our path to market in the United States, and brings us a giant step closer to reaching consumers’ plates. We’ve never been closer to building A more sustainable, humane and delicious world.”

According to a statement from the company, the FDA’s “no questions asked” letter (https://www.fda.gov/media/163261/download) indicates that regulators have found nothing unsafe about the cultured chicken that the company makes.

“We have no questions at this time about UPSIDE’s conclusion that foods consisting of or containing cultured chicken cell material resulting from the production process . . are as safe as similar foods produced by other methods,” the agency’s no-questions letter states.

The FDA also evaluated the company’s production process and the cell culture material that resulted from the production process. They evaluated the establishment of cell lines and cell banks, manufacturing controls, and all components and inputs.

In addition to meeting FDA requirements, which include facility registration for the cell culture portion of the process, the company will need an inspection grant from the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) for the manufacturing organization. The food itself also requires a USDA inspection mark before it can enter the US market.

Meanwhile, the company coordinates closely with FSIS to ensure that its chickens are properly regulated and seasoned.

“We are pleased with the FDA’s historic announcement that, after rigorous evaluation, UPSIDE Foods has become the first company in the world to receive the FDA green light for farmed chicken,” said David Kaye, UPSIDE Foods director of communications.

“On a large scale, cultured meat can be expected to use less water and land than conventional meat,” he noted.

However, cultured meat companies still require a lot of electricity to grow produce.

As for antibiotics, which are commonly used in animal and poultry meat to fight disease and speed up animal growth, lab researchers say they don’t need to use antibiotics in their products because the sterile lab process makes them unnecessary. Nor do they need to use growth-promoting hormones.

Cultured meat advocates have called the technology’s advantage over traditional methods of raising livestock, which typically involve tons and tons of manure “clean, safe, and humane.”

It’s important to keep in mind in all of this that cell-based meat, also called cultured meat, isn’t “meat-free” like products like MorningStar Farms chicken nuggets, Beyond Burger, and Awesome Burgers, which are made with a variety of vegetables. .

Looking forward to the future

“The world is experiencing a ‘food revolution,’” said a statement from FDA Commissioner Robert Calif and Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition Director of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition Susan Main.

Of the other meat-in-the-lab projects in the US, UPSIDE Foods is the closest to being able to produce meat on a large scale. A little over a year ago, the company opened a 53,000-square-foot facility in the San Francisco Bay Area that will be capable of producing 400,000 pounds of meat annually—enough to serve a large number of restaurant customers.

Meanwhile, in addition to working toward full approval to sell the product, UPSIDE Foods plans to build its first commercial facility. This plant would have an annual capacity of tens of millions of pounds of grown meat. A company official said UPSIDE hopes to operate the facility in the next two years.

Barry Carpenter, former president and CEO of the North American Meat Institute and advisor to UPSIDE Foods, applauded the FDA’s announcement.

“The demand for meat is on the rise, and we need every tool in our toolkit to feed the world,” he said in a statement. “Cultivated meat, along with conventionally produced meat, will play an important role in enabling our food system to get to this point.”

On the environmental front, cell-based meat requires less water and land than raising livestock the traditional way.

Advocates predict that cultured meat will reduce the need to slaughter animals for food and help with the climate crisis. They say the current diet is responsible for about a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions, most of which come from animal farming.

FDA officials say that by approving it “without questions” the agency is “demonstrating its commitment to supporting innovation in the food supply.” President Biden also said recently that the country needs to move forward with innovative approaches to food production.

The agency stressed that the FDA’s number one priority is food safety. The agency wrote that food made from cultured animal cells must meet the same stringent requirements as other foods regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.

Looking beyond UPSIDE Foods, the FDA said it is ready to work with additional companies that are developing cultured animal cell foods and production processes to ensure their food is safe and legal under the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

“We encourage companies to have these conversations with us often and early in the development phase of their products and operations, before submitting any application to us,” the FDA statement said. “We are already engaged in discussions with several companies about different types of foods made from cultured animal cells, including food made from seafood cells that will be solely overseen by the FDA. Our goal is to support innovation in food technologies while always maintaining production. Safe food is our priority. Human food made from cultured animal cells must meet the same stringent requirements, including safety requirements, as all other foods.”

It still doesn’t exist yet

The Food and Drug Administration’s review of the first-ever cell culture food for US approval is a start, but it is wholly inadequate, according to a statement from the Center for Food Safety (https://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/press-releases/6768/ statement at FDAs first-ever approved lab-grown chicken). In this “pre-market advisory,” neither the company nor the Food and Drug Administration provided actual data from tests looking at the effects of raising these cells in fetal bovine serum and enzymes from the intestines and pancreas of animals.

Similarly, while the company states that it uses genetic engineering to maintain cell growth, it fails to share the genes used, the center’s statement says. This is vital information that consumers and policymakers need to know to make informed decisions in the interest of public health. We must make sure that genes associated with cancer are not used. In short, documents shared by the FDA and UPSIDE Foods show us where we need more research and more data transparency, but this is a woefully incomplete review by the FDA. In its review of the company’s documents, the FDA said it had “no more questions” about the safety of this experimental product — but we do have many more. In the name of protecting public health, consumers and policymakers deserve better.

Food and poultry safety

Salmonella, a foodborne disease prevalent in conventional chickens, as chickens are often raised in crowded conditions and are therefore more susceptible to salmonella, which in turn can infect people who eat contaminated meat. This poses a potentially fatal risk to consumers, said Brian Ronholm, director of food policy at Consumer Reports.

But this is not a cause for concern in cell-based meat because it is produced under sterile conditions.

Consumer Reports estimates that 1.35 million Americans get sick from salmonella each year and that nearly a quarter of these cases come from chicken or turkey.

The good news is that the USDA has recently proposed a new strategy to reduce salmonella diseases from poultry. Under the proposal, poultry producers would be required to test flocks for salmonella before slaughter and provide documentation of salmonella levels or serotypes to processing plants. This requirement aims to incentivize factories to implement measures to reduce the load of Salmonella in the final poultry product. The USDA is also considering adopting a finished product standard to ensure that poultry contaminated with salmonella likely to make people sick is not allowed on the market.

More about chicken

  • Broiler chicken is the most consumed meat in the United States, with the average person eating 96.4 pounds per person, according to Sentient Media.
  • In 2020, 9.8 billion broiler chicks were hatched in the United States
  • The number of chickens is increasing in the United States, and chicken production has surpassed pig farming to become the number one source of raised meat worldwide.
  • There are currently 25.9 billion chickens living in the world, according to the latest data from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Most of these chickens are in China and the United States, and more than half are in Asia. Obviously, chickens outnumber humans on the planet by an enormous number.

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