Singapore Approves Cultured Meat A Major Step Forward for the Industry, Questions IDTechEx
BOSTON, Dec. 2, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Singapore has become the first country on Earth to approve cultured meat for commercial sale. On Wednesday, December 2nd, the Singapore Food Agency said that the cultured chicken produced by San Francisco-based start-up Eat Just met the safety standards for use in nuggets, opening the door for a commercial launch in the country.
Cultured meat, otherwise known as cultivated meat or clean meat, involves the use of cultured animal cells to create realistic meat-like food products, without requiring the slaughter of animals. Proponents of cultured meat believe it could help overcome the ethical and environmental issues of animal agriculture, while still allowing consumers to enjoy eating meat. In recent years, investment has poured into the industry, with companies like Memphis Meats, Shiok Meats and Mosa Meat having completed funding rounds in 2020.
However, the industry has faced several challenges that have prevented the release of a commercial product. These include high production costs, difficulty in scaling up production, and securing regulatory approval. Before Wednesday's announcement, no regulatory regime in the world had approved cultured meat, with the approval process in the EU and US set to take years.
Approval in Singapore is therefore a major step forward for the cultured meat industry. The safety testing carried out in the approval process is likely to be useful for approval in other regimes and a successful commercial launch in the country may help convince regulators around the world that cultured meat is safe.
As a small nation with little arable land that imports 90% of its food, Singapore has made local food production a priority. In 2019, the Singaporean government set up the "30 by 30" goal, aiming to make the country 30% self-sufficient by 2030 by taking advantage of new food production technologies, such as vertical farming and aquaculture. The Singaporean government has been vocally supportive of cultured meat, having spoken at the Good Food Conference 2019 on its ambitions to bring cultured meat to the country. It also recently pledged to invest up to S$144 million (ca. $106 million) to the Singapore Food Story R&D program, which focuses on urban agriculture, microbial protein production and cultured meat.