Singapore grants world’s first regulatory approval for cultured meat

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After a rigorous consultation and review process, the Singapore Food Agency has certified Eat Just’s cell-cultured chicken, making it the first country in the world to approve the selling of meat created in a laboratory. The San Francisco-based company’s cultured chicken can now be used as an ingredient in chicken bites sold in the Asian city state. Further cultured chicken formats will shortly be added to Eat Just’s product line.

Over the course of many months, Eat Just’s team of scientists, product developers and regulatory experts have prepared extensive documentation on the characterisation of its cultured chicken and the process to produce it. The company included details on the purity, identity and stability of chicken cells during the manufacturing process, as well as a detailed description of the manufacturing process which demonstrated that harvested cultured chicken met quality controls and a rigorous food safety monitoring system.

Over 20 production runs in 1,200-liter bioreactors

Eat Just has demonstrated a consistent manufacturing process of its cultured chicken by running over 20 production runs in 1,200-liter bioreactors. No antibiotics are used in this proprietary process, according to the company. Safety and quality validations demonstrated that harvested cultured chicken met the standards of poultry meat, with extremely low and significantly cleaner microbiological content than conventional chicken. The analysis also demonstrated that cultured chicken contains a high protein content, diversified amino acid composition, high relative content in healthy monounsaturated fats and is a rich source of minerals.

Regulatory approval involved an iterative and extensive safety review by the Singapore Food Agency (SFA), Singapore’s regulatory authority entrusted with ensuring a safe food supply. During this process, Eat Just complied with SFA’s food safety requirements for the assessment of novel foods. In addition, Eat Just’s cultured chicken was confirmed to be safe and nutritious for human consumption by a distinguished external panel of international scientific authorities in Singapore and the United States, with expertise in medicine, toxicology, allergenicity, cell biology and food safety.

The first-in-the-world regulatory allowance of real, high-quality meat created directly from animal cells for safe human consumption paves the way for a forthcoming small-scale commercial launch in Singapore of Eat Just’s new GOOD Meat brand, details for which will be disclosed at a later date.

Concurrent to the consultation and review period, Eat Just formed strategic partnerships with well-established local manufacturers in Singapore to produce cultured chicken cells and formulate the finished product ahead of its historic sale to a restaurant and, ultimately, initial availability to consumers. The company has been impressed with the calibre of local partners helping to make GOOD Meat a strategic reality and further positioning Singapore as the Asia-Pacific region’s hub for food innovation.

Eat Just has also partnered with a consortium led by Proterra Investment Partners Asia Pte Ltd (‘Proterra Asia’), an investment management firm focused on the food and agribusiness sectors, to build and operate a plant protein production facility in Singapore to meet demand for Eat Just’s popular plant-based JUST Egg products across Asia.

mung bean protein, the key ingredient in JUST Egg

Mung bean protein, the key ingredient in JUST Egg [Image Source: Business Wire]

Singapore has long been a leader in innovation of all kinds, from information technology to biologics to now leading the world in building a healthier, safer food system,” said Josh Tetrick, co-founder and CEO of Eat Just.I’m sure that our regulatory approval for cultured meat will be the first of many in Singapore and in countries around the globe. Working in partnership with the broader agriculture sector and forward-thinking policymakers, companies like ours can help meet the increased demand for animal protein as our population climbs to 9.7 billion by 2050.

Cultured meat’s role in creating a safer, more secure global food supply has been well-documented, and the last decade has given rise to a steady increase in the application of animal cell culture technology toward the development of food products. At the same time, meat production has risen dramatically, and by 2050, consumption is projected to increase over 70%. Major public health crises have been linked to patterns of conventional meat consumption, hence, safer, more efficient and less environmentally harmful ways of producing meat are urgently required to satisfy growing consumer demand.

Israeli development in 3D bioprinting of beef

In a further development in this fast-growing sector, Israeli-based Meat-Tech 3D Ltd announced this week that it had succeeded for the first time in printing a cultured beef fat structure composed of bovine fat cells and bio ink, which were grown and developed from stem cells in the company’s laboratories. The printing of beef fat and the bio ink created an edible structure that reached a height of 10mm. This represents a step forward for Meat-Tech’s technology, following its previous milestone of 3D printing a uniform, thin tissue of meat derived from stem cells.

Ultimately, Meat-Tech believes such 3D bioprinting will include additional components, such as muscle cells. The company says the real meat tissue based upon the cell growth, cell differentiation and bio printing technologies that it is developing is designed to leverage cellular agriculture while avoiding the need to raise and slaughter or otherwise harm animals.

As part of its program to develop an industrial process for growing and 3D bioprinting meat tissue without slaughtering animals, Meat-Tech has developed a number of printable materials, including an edible bio ink that helps to create an accurate, digitally-printed structure by supporting 3D printed cells.

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