The U.S. Department of Agriculture approved the first-ever lab-grown chicken in the U.S. on Wednesday.
Upside Foods and Good Meat, two companies in California, have the go-ahead to offer chicken derived from animal cells in restaurants and later in supermarkets.
Instead of coming from chickens in the slaughterhouse, the meat is grown in steel tanks using donor cells from living chickens selected for their quick growing potential and their taste.
The resulting meat is then cut or shaped into familiar cutlets or nuggets.
The process could significantly reduce harm done to farmed animals, and cut down on the environmental impacts of raising livestock.
But cultured chicken is still much more expensive than farmed poultry, and tough to make at the scale that our consumption of poultry demands. The companies plan to first offer their products at specialty restaurants.
Wednesday's decision comes months after the FDA declared that the lab-grown meat was safe to eat. Now the companies are eligible to get the federal inspections they're required to have if they want to sell meat products in the U.S.
Production is modest for now. Upside Foods, for example, says it hopes to eventually produce 400,000 pounds of cultivated chicken a year. The U.S. produces about 50 billion pounds of chicken in the same time frame.
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