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Setting the Record Straight: Eat Just is First Cultivated Meat Company to Receive USDA Label Approval

In a turn of events, and further to our article published some hours ago, UPSIDE Foods is in fact the second cultivated meat company in the US to receive label approval from USDA, not the first, as the company claimed in its widely distributed press release today.

Following the publication of the UPSIDE news on ours and other platforms, Eat Just contacts vegconomist to set the record straight: GOOD Meat (Eat Just’s cultivated arm) received approval of our label on June 8,” says the California food tech, adding that the company was not planning to make an announcement until after it had received its Grant of Inspection, representing the final step in the regulatory approval process.

Noodle bowl with UPSIDE Chicken, image supplied

What came first, the chicken or the … chicken?

Reuters was the first publication to make the distinction clear, stating earlier today in response to UPSIDE’s news that this makes it “the second company in the United States to secure that approval.”

Vegconomist wanted to obtain further clarification on this interesting situation in which two companies operating in the same field appear to be almost neck and neck in a race to bring slaughter-free chicken to the US market. It’s an applaudable race, that’s for certain.

Eat Just’s Head of Global Communications & Public Affairs, Andrew Noyes, provides details as follows.

What is the approved label term and for what kind of product?
We have had months of insightful and productive conversations with the USDA and appreciate their thoughtfulness during this regulatory process. We shared with them, as we have publicly, that “cultivated” is our preferred term and the preferred term for most in the industry globally. That term has become well understood in Singapore, where people have been enjoying GOOD Meat at restaurants for more than two years. Having said that, the USDA-approved label for our first product at launch will be “cell-cultivated chicken.”

Where you are planning to launch?
As we previously announced, world-renowned chef and humanitarian José Andrés will be the first in the country to offer our chicken to customers at a restaurant in Washington, D.C. Andrés is chef/owner of José Andrés Group, which operates more than 30 restaurants across the country.
cultivated chicken breast
GOOD Meat: Cultivated Chicken on Greens © Eat Just

We understand that this chicken relies on FBS – is this still the case? When a product is developed that is totally slaughter-free, will it need to pass approvals again?
Like in Singapore, we will submit an amendment to our FDA filings. GOOD Meat received the first-in-the-world regulatory approval from the Singapore Food Agency for the use of serum-free media for the production of cultivated meat earlier this year.

This technical and regulatory milestone will lead to greater scalability, lower manufacturing costs, and a more sustainable product. It also paves the way for the production of larger quantities of real, high-quality chicken made from cells instead of slaughtered animals. Generally, our R&D operations have been free from animal-derived nutrients for over three years.

A timeline of events

October 2020
Eat Just reveals plans for a $120 million facility in Singapore and intentions to enter into cultured meat.

December 2020
Singapore becomes the first country in the world to approve cultivated meat for sale when Eat Just is granted permission for the sale of cultivated chicken nuggets in Singapore.

December 2021
Eat Just receives regulatory approval for its cultivated chicken breast in Singapore. Customers were able to sample the cultivated chicken breast at the JW Marriott Hotel in Singapore South Beach.

GOOD Meat Chicken Singapore
©Eat Just

February 2022
Singapore’s famous food hawker stalls begin to sell GOOD Meat’s chicken to the public.

June 2022
GOOD Meat breaks ground on the largest cultivated meat facility in Asia.

November 2022
UPSIDE Foods receives approval from the US FDA for its cultivated chicken, marking the first time in the world a company has received a No Questions letter for cultivated meat, poultry, or seafood.

“Before entering the U.S. Market, the food must meet other federal requirements,” states the FDA document. The products were granted Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) status and UPSIDE awaits a No Further Questions letter pending further evidence of its safety from the FDA.

UPSIDE Foods FDA greenlight
© UPSIDE Foods

March 2023
Eat Just / GOOD Meat receives a No Questions letter from the US FDA, marking the first time a cultivated meat product has received regulatory approval on multiple continents.

8th June 2023
Eat Just / GOOD Meat receives USDA label approval for the sale of its cultivated chicken in the USA pending a Grant of Inspection. “We began working toward that and the formal grant of inspection prior to the FDA’s “no questions” letter. The USDA District Office has become familiar with our processes and products and their staff has been collaborative throughout this process.” The company awaits GoI before releasing a statement.

12th June 2023
UPSIDE Foods receives USDA label approval.

UPSIDE Foods banner
Image credit: UPSIDE Foods LinkedIn

14th June 2023:
UPSIDE releases a media statement describing the label approval and says it is working with the USDA to obtain a Grant of Inspection for its facility as the last step in the pre-market regulatory process. Receiving the GOI would confirm that the plant meets federal operating requirements for meat & poultry facilities.

Says the UPSIDE press release: “With an approved label in hand, UPSIDE is working with the USDA to obtain a Grant of Inspection (GOI) for its Engineering, Production, and Innovation Center (EPIC). Receiving this GOI will be the final step in the regulatory process before the company can sell its cultivated chicken, starting at Dominique Crenn’s Bar Crenn restaurant in San Francisco.”

UPSIDE Foods aims to make its cultivated meat available to consumers this year.

>> Click here to go to Cultivated X where you will see a familiar layout and a focus solely on content regarding cellular agriculture, including fermentation-enabled products, and with more granular categories.

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