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Cultivated meat could be coming to a dinner table near you

Posted at 1:15 PM, Feb 13, 2023

Whether you're a meat eater or a vegetarian, there's another protein source expected to hit the market that people on both sides of the aisle could eat. Eric Schulze with Upside Foods in the Bay Area of California says they were the first company to create cultivated meat.

"You cannot currently purchase any cultivated meat here in the United States, but that's rapidly going to change," Schulze said. "Upside Foods obtained the first green light from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration this year to establish the safety of consuming our cultivated meat products."

Schulze says the concept of cultivated meat was born from a cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic who was growing human heart cells in a lab. He figured it would be possible to grow meat with similar science. Now, he says, there are more than a hundred cultivated meat companies worldwide.

"Cultivated meat is simply making the real meat that we eat every day outside of an animal," Schulze said. "So taking real animal cells directly from a chicken and producing food directly from it. From one single animal, from one biopsy, from one sample of cells, we can have potentially decades of meat produced, and we have thousands of these samples from different breeds of chickens and cows and what have you."

Schulze says they can have a full animal's-worth of product in just three to 14 days.

"Right now, as the population's growing, we're expecting meat demand to double by 2050," Schulze said. "So we have to shrink the footprint of what we're going to do in order to feed that many people."

A nonprofit called the Good Food Institute says cultivated meat is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, conserve water and conserve land. However, those benefits come with challenges.

Schulze says the biggest challenge is scaling up the operation so cultivated meat can be an affordable option at the grocery store. The Good Food Institute says more research is needed to know which cells will be best suited for large-scale manufacturing. The other challenge is education.

"This is a new product in many eyes to many people," Schulze said "They've been eating meat that comes from a slaughtered animal for their entire lives. We've been doing that for 10,000 years."

Pending a review from the Department of Agriculture, Schulze says the meat will be introduced in local Bay Area restaurants by the end of the year. The goal is to eventually have it available in grocery stores.