Singapore’s restaurant-goers will soon get the chance to enjoy chicken nuggets made without the slaughter of a single fowl.
The island nation’s food regulators have granted approval for San Francisco-based Eat Just to sell its lab-created chicken, making Singapore the world’s first country to approve the sale of so-called cultured meat.
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The product is reported to take the form of a breaded, seasoned chicken bite when it debuts publicly at a Singapore restaurant before the end of the year.
“Cultured meat is taking real meat — chicken, beef, or lamb — and producing real meat, without the slaughter of an animal, ” Josh Tetrick, Founder and CEO of Eat Just, said in an interview with Bioreports’s Brian Cooley.
Chicken from chicken, just not from an actual chicken
Unlike traditional meat products that involve killing an animal in a processing plant, cultured meat products are grown from animal cells that are fed nutrients and ultimately scaled up in bioreactors.
Read more: Plant-based pig out: This startup’s making pork that’s better for the planet
Singapore’s approval of Eat Just’s lab-created chicken aligns with its broader food-security agenda, wherein the tiny island nation is aiming to produce 30% of its own food by 2030.
“With a single cell, you can create an unlimited amount of meat without antibiotics, without deforesting a single acre of land,” Tetrick said.
One of the main goals of many alternative meat advocates like Tetrick is to cut down on livestock farming, which is linked to a range of environmental issues, including water depletion, deforestation and the production of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change, experts say.
That partly explains why Singapore isn’t alone in its push to introduce alternative meats at scale.
International fast food chains have increasingly added meat-substitutes to their menus amid rising consumer demand for plant-based offerings amid growing awareness of the devastating environmental impact of animal agriculture and animal welfare concerns. In November, McDonald’s announced plans to introduce a meat-free burger as part of its McPlant menu options expected to debut next year. Meanwhile, KFC has debuted a plant-based chicken offering, developed in partnership with Beyond Meats, for its menus internationally.
Over two years ago, Eat Just began the work of submitting its chicken cell line to Singaporean regulators, who then reviewed the composition, process and safety elements, according to the company.
But don’t expect the company’s cultivated meat products to hit shelves in the United States anytime soon
The “biggest limiting step to launching in the USA is the FDA and USDA creating a regulatory framework similar to Singapore,” Tetrick told Bioreports.
Eat Just sells plant-based egg substitutes made from the mung bean under the Just Egg brand in countries including the US and mainland China.