The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has granted approval for laboratory-grown chicken to be sold to US consumers for the first time.

The approval will make the US only the second country in the world, after Singapore, to allow the sale of meat grown from animal cells.

Two US companies, Upside Foods and Good Meat are the first to complete the multi-step approval for ‘cultivated meat’; the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has deemed the meat is “safe to eat”.

Both have been given permission by USDA to produce and sell chicken that has been grown from a cluster of sample animal cells in large metal vats.

Lab grown chicken

The new products are not vegetarian, but rather meat that has been grown in the sort of setting more familiar to the pharmaceutical industry than the food sector.

A scraping of cells are taken from an animal, such as a cow or chicken, and then multiplied into cuts of meat in bioreactors.

Both Upside Foods and Good Meat were cleared on safety grounds by the FDA in November, and the USDA last week reviewed and approved their product labels to ensure they were not misleading.

Good Meat has been producing its lab-grown chicken since 2020, but has only been able to sell into the Singapore market.

Josh Tetrick, chief executive of Good Meat, said that the approval is a “major moment for our company, the industry and the food system”.

Uma Valeti, chief executive of Upside Foods said that it is “a dream come true”.

She added: “It marks a new era. The commercial sale of lab-grown meat in the US fundamentally changes how meat makes it to our table.

“It’s a giant step forward towards a more sustainable future – one that preserves choice and life.”

Food awareness organisation, ProVeg International, has welcomed the approval by US regulators.

The organisation’s chief executive, Jasmijn de Boo said: “This is fantastic news and will open the gates to many more product approvals, bringing nearer the day when the factory farming of animals and its associated environmental burdens will become history.”