In what is slated to be a world-first approval, this week Singapore gave the greenlight to Eat Just to begin selling its lab-grown chicken meat in restaurants, with sales to regular consumers slated to follow later.
Unlike some of the company’s other plant-based products like Just Egg (which is based primarily on mung beans) or Just Mayo (which is based on yellow peas), or other plant-based meats like Impossible Burger, Eat Just’s lab-made chicken is derived from chicken cell-cultures grown in a bioreactor fed with various proteins, amino acids, sugars and minerals.
While more than a dozen different companies are currently working on their own version of lab-grown meat, by getting approval from the Singapore Food Agency or SFA, Eat Just’s lab-made chicken—which will be produced under the company’s new GOOD Meat brand—is the first of its kind to get a commercial go ahead.
To create its lab-grown meat, Eat Just claims no chickens are killed to create the cell lines it used to create its lab-grown chicken meat, with the company instead relying on cells sourced from methods including biopsies on live chickens. Eat Just also claims that because its production methods are significantly cleaner than traditional poultry farms, the company says it doesn’t need to use antibiotics to make its lab-grown chicken. Additionally, before gaining approval from the Singapore government, Eat Just says it ran through 20 production runs of its chicken to prove the safety and consistency of its product.
According to the company’s press release, initially, Eat Just’s lab-grown chicken will be used as an ingredient in chicken bites or chicken nuggets, though Eat Just is already working on other “cultured chicken formats” for use in other dishes or applications. However, while its first lab-made chicken has been approved for use, there currently isn’t a specific date for when it will go on sale in restaurants in Singapore.
For Singapore, which relies heavily on imports to source the vast majority of its food and produce, the idea of lab-grown meat makes a lot of sense as it would allow Singapore to produce more chicken domestically, even in dense urban areas. According to Eat Just co-founder and CEO Josh Tetrick, the company also has plans to bring the product to other markets likely including the U.S., however at this time, Singapore’s regulatory system for lab-grown meat is ahead of other countries.
While a lot of people today might balk at the idea of eating lab-grown meat, with the recent surge in plant-based meats from companies like Impossible, Beyond Meat, and others, lab-grown meats has long been hailed as one of the next big things, with some projections claiming the global cultured meat market will be worth more than half a billion dollars by 2032. There’s still a lot to learn about lab-grown meat, but if you want to try it you better have saved up your airline miles.