Singapore approves no-kill chicken for commercial sale in landmark move
- American firm Eat Just becomes the first company to get regulatory approval for the commercial sale of lab-grown cultured chicken in Singapore.
- Eat Just’s cultured chicken offering is one of the new-age developments in food technology that seeks to detach the ethical and environmental concerns traditionally associated with animal-based foods like meat and milk.
- The company’s chicken offering has been made without slaughtering a single chicken but using chicken cells extracted through biopsy of live animals.
- The final product is animal tissues that are equally nutritious, safe, and made without a single application of hormones or antibiotics found in conventional chicken.
KOLKATA (India) — Singapore’s Food Agency has given a lab-grown or cultured chicken by a US firm green light for commercial sale in a landmark move, something that could usher a wave of similar moves.
Eat Just, an American cultured meat producer famous for its plant-based egg replacement called Just eggs, will be selling its lab-grown chicken offering in form of ingredients in the chicken bites in selected outlets after Singapore’s food regulator approved the products following rigorous testing.
Eat Just’s cultured chicken offering is one of the new-age developments in food technology that seeks to detach the ethical and environmental concerns traditionally associated with animal-based foods like meat and milk.
As per the initial regulation, selected hotels in the South Asian financial capital will be able to sell the product, followed by the addition of other offerings in the lineup in the future.
The company’s chicken offering has been made without slaughtering a single chicken but using chicken cells extracted through biopsy of live animals.
On the other hand, every day, 130 million chickens are killed daily for consumption.
The sample cells/tissues are then placed in bioreactors of over a thousand liters, where they are nutrition-fed via plan-based ingredients to allow them to grow.
The final product is animal tissues that are equally nutritious, safe, and made without a single application of hormones or antibiotics found in conventional chicken.
As far as the interim approval of Just Eat’s lineup in Singapore goes, initial price points will be more than conventional chicken, and will not be very widely available.
But as the production capacity grows, following demands, the company expects the price will be lower than traditional slaughtered chicken.
As of now, the small-scale production of such cultured meats does requires some energy and therefore carbon emission, the Guardian noted, but in the future as manufacturing ramps up, emissions can be lowered, even less than conventional chicken production.
Are these lab-grown meat safe to consume?
As far as the regulatory approval process in nations like Singapore goes, it certainly is okay to consume these products, given the rigorous testing that is placed before approval.
But there’s paranoia regarding cultured meats and the process through which it is grown.
The Singapore Food Agency (SFA) reportedly scrutinized twenty batches of Eat Just’s products delivered from 1,200-liter bioreactors.
Furthermore Eat Just’s product was found to have significantly cleaner microbiological content than conventional chicken along with diversified amino acids, high protein content, healthy monounsaturated fats, and minerals in it.
“Singapore has long been a leader in the 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.”
But Tetrick also raised concerns about the public reception of the cultured meat, which he says is one of the biggest hurdles their product could potentially face.
But acknowledging the difference in public reaction Tetrick said they hope to win the commoner’s appreciation through transparent communication.
How could these products help?
Eat Just may be the first company to win regulatory approval for sale in a major economy, there are several players practicing in the same field.
Several other companies like BlueNalu, Finless Foods, & Wild Type are engaged in the development of cell-based sea-foods, using the same technology that is used by the likes of Eat Just.
These firms are essentially in the same category who’re seeking to serve animal-based products with the same taste, and nutrition, sans the bloodshed and pollution.
How these companies are trying to bring the change is by leveraging the opportunity cell-based meat technology gives to divert the carbon footprint that is traditionally attached to meat in a conventional way.
Hundreds of millions of chickens, including millions of pigs and cows among other animals, are slaughtered for consumption daily, which involves a highly polluting journey from the birth of the animal, including raising, until they’re killed.
A tremendous amount of energy is involved (consequently the release of tonnes of CO2) in sustaining this livestock, followed by mammoth requirement of feeds, and human resources.
The final product or meat makes up for just a fraction of the massive exercise that has followed.
For instance, to make a kilogram of beef, 25 kilograms of feed is required. This is traditionally followed by tens of millions of liters of water, burning of tonnes of fossil fuels (for transportation) until it lands on your plate.
Research shows that reducing meat consumption is the single biggest action a person can take to lessen an individual’s contribution to climate change.
Since manufacturing Eat Just chicken does not require millions of live chickens, who need an enormous amount of energy and resources to maintain them before they are slaughtered, these offerings have next to zero impact on the environment.
But as of now, they’re not exactly as environmentally friendly as they could potentially be, once demand increases and the production can be ramped up.
The company also said Eat Just’s cultured chicken was marked safe and healthy for human consumption by a distinguished outside panel of international scientific authorities in the US and Singapore with expertise in medicine, toxicology, allergenicity, cell biology, and food safety.