Cultivated Meat: Approvals and Prohibitions Since Singapore’s Pioneering Step in 2020 – vegconomist

Cultivated Meat: Approvals and Prohibitions Since Singapore’s Pioneering Step in 2020 – vegconomist

Since Singapore became the first country to approve cultivated meat in 2020, a favorable regulatory environment has been growing in some nations while others have opted to ban the technology.

Currently, worldwide, 174 companies are developing cultivated meat from cells, rather than farming animals or fishing. This milestone signifies a major achievement for an emerging industry that has had to build practically everything from the bottom up.

Today’s summary highlights the world’s cultivated meat approvals and the latest submissions from companies eager to offer consumers new cultivated products.

GOOD Meat- Image courtesy of GFI

Cultivated chicken

Singapore pioneered the approval of cultivated meat with GOOD Meat‘s chicken in 2020. Since then, the product, a mix of 70% meat made from chicken cells and plant ingredients, has been cooked by chefs and served in fine dining establishments, food delivery apps, and hawker stalls. 

Last week, GOOD Meat launched a new frozen chicken product at Huber’s Butchery, marking cultivated meat’s first-ever retail sales and the first time consumers can cook cultivated meat at home and share their feedback on social media.

However, this new iteration is a lower-cost version comprising 3% cultivated chicken cells and 97% plant-based ingredients. Ryan Huling, Senior Communications Manager at the Good Food Institute APAC, commented on the hybrid product, “By dramatically reducing per-piece costs through hybrid formulations, cultivated meat companies can sell to a larger share of the population while they work to scale up manufacturing volume.”

In 2022, GOOD Meat held a private tasting at COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, featuring dishes made with its first cultivated chicken product.

Australian cultivated meat company Vow announces that it has secured regulatory approval from the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) to produce and sell its first product, cultivated quail.
Vow’s cultivated quail product – Image courtesy of Vow

Cultivated quail

In April, the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) also gave the green light to the Australian cultivated meat company Vow to produce and sell the world’s first cultivated quail product—a hybrid product that launched as the Forged Parfait at Mandala Club’s MORI this April. According to the company, it will launch in other restaurants during the year. With this approval, Vow became the fourth company in the world to sell cultivated meat. 

Singapore’s progressive novel food environment has attracted the attention of worldwide cultivated meat companies, including Israel’s Aleph Farms, Germany’s Bluu Seafood, the Netherlands’ Meatable, France’s Vital Meat, and China’s CellMEAT.

The FSA also approves cultivated meat tastings in the country. This regulation has allowed Meatable and China’s Avant Meats to obtain consumer feedback on their products.

UPSIDE Foods receives regulatory approval to produce and sell its cultivated chicken in the US
Image courtesy of UPSIDE Foods

USA – two cultivated chicken products

The USA became the second country in the world to approve cultivated meat. In June 2023, UPSIDE Foods and GOOD Meat received the USDA’s green light to sell cultivated chicken to consumers. 

UPSIDE Foods’s cultivated chicken, a whole-textured chicken product with 99% chicken cells, was launched at Bar Crenn in San Francisco, a restaurant owned by the three Michelin-star chef Dominique Crenn. GOOD Meat’s chicken debuted at chef José Andrés’ China Chilcano restaurant in Washington, DC. Currently, both products are not available either in restaurants or for purchase. 

Forty-three companies are developing cell-based meat in the US, and the FDA and USDA anticipate receiving new product applications. Despite this dynamic environment and the previous approvals, Florida and Alabama made cultivated meat illegal in their states.

Iowa has also passed legislation regulating the labeling of cultivated meat and alternative meat products. From July, these products must include terms such as “fake,” “lab-grown,” “meatless,” “imitation,” or “vegan” on their labels.

Aleph Farm's cultivated petit steak
Image courtesy of Aleph Farms

Israel – cultivated beef

In January, Aleph Farms received regulatory approval from the Israeli Ministry of Health to commercialize its flagship product, an Angus thin steak dubbed the Petit Steak. The green light marked the world’s first approval for cultivated beef and positioned Israel as the third country where consumers can taste cultivated meat.  

Israel is a hub for alternative proteins, with more than 80 active startups. GFI Israel, 19 startups work in the cultivated meat field, including Forsea, Wanda Fish, EFISHient Protein, Steakholder Foods, ProFuse Technology, and Meatafora.

Switzerland & the UK

Last year, Aleph Farms bypassed the EU’s single market regulations by seeking approval for its cultivated beef in other European countries: first in Switzerland and later in the UK. With this move, it became the first cultivated meat company to seek approval in Europe. 

Aleph Farms reports that research conducted by Migros, Switzerland’s largest supermarket and meat producer, reveals that 74% of Swiss consumers are interested in cultivated meat, driven by sustainability and animal welfare concerns. 

Vital Meat
© Vital Meat

Recently, France’s Vital Meat submitted a novel food dossier to the UK’s Food Standards Agency and Food Standards Scotland (FSS) for the approval of Vital Chicken. The company’s cultivated chicken is said to be non-GMO, antibiotic-free, and serum-free. Once approved, the company will be able to market its chicken product in England, Wales, and Scotland. 

The FSA is updating the regulations for cultivated meat and precision fermentation-derived foods to remove unnecessary delays in bringing these products to market. A 2022 FSA survey revealed that 34% of UK consumers are willing to try cultivated meat and that the country’s animal agriculture industry is considering how to benefit from the technology.

The Good Food Institute (GFI) projects that cultivated meat could be a significant economic driver in the UK, potentially contributing up to £523 million in tax revenue and injecting £2.1 billion into the economy by 2030. 

Also in Europe, Vow and the UK’s Ivy Farm have held cultivated meat tastings in Iceland. The Icelandic prime minister, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, tried cultivated meat for the first time in dishes featuring Vow’s cultivated quail. The Icelandic ministers, Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir and Bjarkey Olsen Gunnarsdóttir tasted Ivy Farm’s cultivated beef during Iceland Innovation Week.

Meatable, a Dutch producer of cell-based pork meat, has become the first company to hold an officially approved cultivated meat tasting in the European Union and the first in the Netherlands.
Image courtesy of Meatable © Bart Maat

The Netherlands

The Netherlands has emerged as a leader in the cultivated meat industry, thanks to a favorable environment bolstered by a €60 million investment from the Dutch government to support the development of cellular agriculture. 

Last year, the Netherlands became the first EU member to allow cultivated meat and seafood tastings, setting a precedent even before EU novel food approval. 

This April, the cultivated pork company Meatable hosted the European Union’s first official cultivated meat tasting and the country’s first, marking a significant milestone for the Netherlands.  Among the guests were Constantijn van Oranje, Prince of the Netherlands and Special Envoy; Michelin-starred chef Ron Blaauw; and entrepreneur Ira van Eelen. They had the opportunity to sample Meatable’s cultivated pork sausages.

Adding to the momentum, cultivated meat company Mosa Meat has announced plans for an upcoming tasting of its cultivated beef burgers in the Netherlands.

Vital Meat cultivated chicken
© Vital Meat

Italy, France, & Austria – against cultivated meat

Last November, the Italian government passed a controversial bill banning cultivated meat and regulations prohibiting animal product names such as “ham” or “steak” on plant-based meat labels. 

A month later, The Republicans (Les Républicains) party introduced a bill in the National Assembly to make cultivated meat illegal in the country. 

Later, in early 2024, a coalition of 13 agricultural ministers, led by Austria, France, and Italy, urged the EU Council to revisit the regulatory approval framework for cultivated meat. They raised concerns about the potential threat of cultivated meat to the economy, public health, and farmers while questioning its “naturalness” and sustainability. 

France’s Vital Meat commented then, “Producing cultivated meat uses far less water and energy resources. It also reduces the need for farming land. Cultivated meat will help meet the increasing world demand for animal-derived proteins while decreasing the environmental impact.” 

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