Science

Lab grown chicken meat will hit Singaporean shelves in world first

Singaporean authorities have just given the green light for lab grown chicken meat to be sold commercially.

In huge news, US company Eat Just have just announced that their lab grown “culture” chicken has passed Singapore’s food standards and safety check. The company’s “chicken bites” have been approved for sale across the country and reportedly hold the same nutritional value as real meat.

This approval is a landmark step within food ethics, providing a promising meat alternative as consumer demand reaches an all-time high.

Photo: Eat Just

In recent years, the farming industry has come under fire for its adverse impact on the environment. Cattle and livestock are proven to be one of the planet’s worst sources of methane pollution, while land-clearing for livestock has held devastating consequences for the Earth. And not to mention the horrific conditions of battery farming and the wasteless slaughtering of animals which too often comes from the agricultural industries.

It is estimated that 130 million chickens are killed everyday for consumption, as well as four million pigs.

Currently, meat alternatives are booming on the market, with Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods taking big steps to tackle the problem. However, all other market products are plant-based, with none coming close to Eat Just’s developments.

The revolutionary product has been hailed as a “breakthrough for the global food industry,” and is a “very big deal” for “the future of the meat industry,” said Eat Just CEO, Josh Tetrick

Eat Just’s cultivated meat is made from animal muscle cells grown in a 1,200-litre bioreactor, which are combined with plant-based ingredients to constitute the final product. To begin the process, cells are taken from biopsies of live animals, meaning that no animals are killed in the making of this product.

“I think the approval is one of the most significant milestones in the food industry in the last handful of decades,” Tetrick says. “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.”

Yet, there are still some major challenges for the company, mainly pricing and securing approval in other countries. Expansion of the product is no easy task either, as Tetrick explains: “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.”

Perhaps the firm’s largest obstacle is price. Initially, the chicken bites were expected to cost around $50. Eat Just have not yet confirmed the final cost, but a spokesperson told the AFP that, “right from the start, we will be at price parity for premium chicken at a high-end restaurant.”

Costs are expected to dwindle in the coming years. Bruce Friedrich of the not-for-profit Good Food Institute in the US said that the cultivated meat is unlikely to become a mainstream option until it has matched low costs of standard meat.

Although the cultured meat won’t be a household option for a couple of years, it remains a positive change for animal and climate justice.

“Meat consumption is projected to increase by over 70 per cent by 2050, and lab-grown alternatives have a role to play in a safe, secure food supply.” Just Eat said.