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S’pore becomes first country to approve sale of lab-grown chicken

SINGAPORE — Singapore is set to become the first country in the world to have laboratory-grown meat on menus here.

S’pore becomes first country to approve sale of lab-grown chicken

The lab-grown chicken products by American food firm Eat Just will be sold at “a restaurant” here. Details, such as where and when it will be available, will be announced later.

  • Singapore is the first country worldwide to approve the sale of lab-grown meat
  • American food company Eat Just will sell its cultured chicken at a restaurant here
  • The Singapore Food Agency said alternative methods of making protein-rich food are needed to keep up with rising demand

 

SINGAPORE — Singapore is set to become the first country in the world to have laboratory-grown meat on menus here.

Regulators in Singapore on Wednesday (Dec 2) granted approval to American food manufacturer Eat Just to start selling nuggets and snacks made of lab-grown, or cultured, chicken.

Unlike more popular variants that use plant-based proteins to mimic the texture and taste of meat, such as the plant-based burger patties by American firm Impossible Foods, cultured chicken features meat grown from cell culture.

This entails isolating chicken cells from a source, such as a live chicken or its meat, and replicating them in a cell culture. These replicated cells can then be used to develop various meat products, such as nuggets and sausages.

This makes cultured chicken a form of novel food, or food that does not have a history of being consumed by humans.

The Singapore Food Agency’s (SFA) go-ahead marks the first time any country in the world has given the green light for the sale of cultured meat.

It comes after “an iterative and extensive safety review” by SFA, Eat Just said in a statement on Wednesday.

Responding to TODAY’s enquiries, Mr Andrew Noyes, head of global communications at Eat Just, said the cultured chicken would be sold at “a restaurant” here. Details, such as where and when it will be available, will be announced later.

The product will be priced on a par with premium chicken available at restaurants.

Mr Noyes said his firm’s cultured chicken is safer and more sustainable for the planet.

“Our cultured chicken has much lower microbiological content than conventional chicken, because the chicken cells are grown in a safe, sterile and controlled environment.”

While regular store-bought chicken may have salmonella and Escherichia coli — bacteria associated with food poisoning — Eat Just’s cultured chicken tests negative for all pathogens, Mr Noyes noted.

He said that from an environmental standpoint, early analyses show that cultured meat requires less land and water to produce than conventional meat. It also emits less greenhouse gas.

The company added: “Eat Just’s cultured chicken was confirmed to be safe and nutritious for human consumption by a distinguished outside panel of international scientific authorities in Singapore and the United States, with expertise in medicine, toxicology, allergenicity, cell biology and food safety.”

Confirming the approval, SFA said there was increasing demand for food worldwide, including proteins, owing to a growing global population and rising middle class.

Therefore, new innovations and alternative methods of producing protein-rich food productively and sustainably are needed, it added.

Alternative protein is one such innovation that can be a sustainable source as it requires relatively small amounts of land and labour, SFA said. 

Under SFA’s regulatory framework, in place since November last year, companies must submit a safety assessment of their novel food before it can go on sale.

These assessments cover potential food safety risks, such as toxicity and allergenicity, the safety of production methods, and detailed information on the materials used in manufacturing processes.

SFA then reviews these assessments to ascertain that applicants have dealt with potential food safety issues.

Furthermore, companies that sell pre-packaged alternative proteins must label their products with terms such as “cell-based” or “cultured meat” to indicate their source.

Likewise, food establishments are required to clearly represent the nature of the meat they offer.

Related topics

food cultured chicken Eat Just SFA laboratory-grown meat

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