On Wednesday (December 2), the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) gave the green light to US startup Eat Just to start selling its lab-grown chicken meat here.
According to the startup, the Singapore government’s review and regulatory approval is a “world first.”
The cell-cultured chicken is set to be produced under Eat Just’s GOOD Meat brand through partnerships with Singaporean manufacturers, and will eventually be available in restaurants.
SFA confirmed the approval with news outlet TODAYOnline, stating that there is an increasing demand for food worldwide.
Furthermore, food security has been a burgeoning problem in Singapore.
According to SFA, Singapore currently imports 90 per cent of food consumed in the country. A heavy reliance on imported food means that Singapore faces unique challenges in ensuring a steady supply of food for the population.
What Is Lab-Grown Chicken Meat?
Unlike other popular brands of alternative meat that typically use plant-based proteins to mimic the texture of meat, lab-grown chicken features meat grown from cell culture.
No chickens are killed to produce Eat Just’s lab-grown meat.
The process starts with cell isolation, where cells are sourced either from a live chicken, or its meat.
After the cells are cultured, they are transferred into a bioreactor, and fed with a proprietary mix of proteins, amino acids, minerals, sugars, salts and other nutrients.
The replicated cells will then be used to develop various meat products that Singaporeans will soon be able to seen on menus in restaurants here.
According to TechCrunch, Eat Just said it went through “20 production runs of cell-cultured chicken in 1,200-liter bioreactors to prove the consistency of its manufacturing process”.
Eat Just also said no antibiotics were used and that its cultured chicken has an “extremely low and significantly cleaner microbiological content than conventional chicken.”
Eat Just’s cultured chicken was confirmed to be safe and nutritious for human consumption by a distinguished outside panel of international scientific authorities in Singapore and the United States, with expertise in medicine, toxicology, allergenicity, cell biology and food safety.Eat Just in an interview with TODAYOnline
Eat Just’s cultured meat, global head of communications Andrew Noyes told TechCrunch that the company is already working with a restaurant to add the GOOD Meat chicken to its menu.
Though a launch date has not been finalised yet, the startup hopes to announce one soon.
Alternative Protein Is Making Waves In Singapore
This has led to a rise in food technology startups in Singapore. Investor funding, government and consumer support has also been strong in the industry.
Alternative protein and lab-grown meats has also been growing in popularity in Singapore in recent years.
According to Enterprise Singapore, Singapore startups managed to snag S$14 billion in investments in 2018. That figure represents an astounding 14-fold increase from just under a billion in 2012.
Since the start of the year, investments of at least $40 million from both public and private sources have been made into agri-food tech start-ups.
Shiok Meats, the world’s first cell-based crustacean meat company based in Singapore, raised US$12.6 million (S$17.27 million) in a Series A funding round this October.
It is likely that the trend will not die down anytime soon, and Singaporeans will continue to see more alternative meat options in menus and supermarkets here.
Featured Image Credit: Eat Just