Skip to main content
Move the World.
cultured meat

Lead Image Courtesy of Eat Just

The meat you'll find in your local grocery store all comes from the same place: a once-living animal. However, that might not be the case in the future: Singapore has just approved the sale of meat grown from animal muscle cells — outside of a living creature.

Also known as "cultured meat" or "clean meat," this alternative to standard chicken and beef has been under development for years, but this marks the first time a nation has approved its sale — and now that the first domino has fallen, others could follow suit.

Meatier Meat Alternatives

Interest in meat alternatives has soared in recent years, as people look for ways to enjoy the taste of meat that are healthier, more humane, or less harmful to the environment.

Currently, all of those meat alternatives are made from plants, but some are getting ever closer to replicating the flavor and texture of real meat. Cultured meat might be able to fill the gap further, as it starts out with actual animal cells, not soybeans or pea protein.

The cultured meat that Singapore approved for sale is the work of U.S.-based startup Eat Just.

To make it, chicken cells are placed into large containers, called "bioreactors," along with ingredients to help them grow. The animal cells are then combined with plant-based ingredients to create a kind of nugget called "chicken bites."

Before granting its approval, the Singapore Food Agency reviewed data on Eat Just's manufacturing process and safety testing and found it met its standards.

At the same time, a panel of experts in food safety, cell biology, and other related fields reviewed the cultured meat and found it to be both nutritious and safe for human consumption.

Now that the approval has been granted, Eat Just plans to make the chicken bites available to diners at one restaurant in Singapore "in the very near term," CEO Josh Tetrick told Reuters.

Cultured Meat: Yea or Nay?

So, the cultured meat is safe — but will people want to eat it?

Some may be hesitant to try lab-grown meat simply because it sounds "unnatural." Others might not want to pay extra for cultured meat when they could just buy the real stuff (the cost would presumably drop if/when demand increases, but you need initial demand to be strong enough to scale up the business).

The “chicken bites" are a combination of lab-grown cells and plant-based ingredients.

Additionally, while cultured meat is more humane than slaughtering animals, it's still not clear whether it has any environmental benefits over factory farming, so some people might not be interested until that's proven.

Still, the only way to find out if people are willing to bite on cultured meat is to start selling it, and now that one nation has it, it might be easier to get others — including the U.S. — to follow suit.

"I think the approval is one of the most significant milestones in the food industry in the last handful of decades," Tetrick told The Guardian. "It's an open door and it's up to us and other companies to take that opportunity."

We'd love to hear from you! If you have a comment about this article or if you have a tip for a future Freethink story, please email us at [email protected].

Up Next

Future of Food
Clean Meat: A New Protein is Making its Way onto the Chef's Table
Clean Meat: A New Protein is Making its Way onto the Chef's Table
Future of Food
Clean Meat: A New Protein is Making its Way onto the Chef's Table
Clean meat is becoming a more widely known, and much loved food category. But do you expect to see it on your gourmet plate any time soon? These chefs think yes.

Clean meat is becoming a more widely known, and much loved food category. But do you expect to see it on your gourmet plate any time soon? These chefs think yes.

Science
What to Expect In a Post-Meat Future
What to Expect In a Post-Meat Future
Science
What to Expect In a Post-Meat Future
From advanced plant-based meat alternatives to real meat grown in a lab, the days of eating meat from once-living...
By Mike Riggs

From advanced plant-based meat alternatives to real meat grown in a lab, the days of eating meat from once-living animals could be numbered.

Future of Food
What’s Not to Love About Lab Grown Meat?
Inside the World of Gourmet Lab Meat
Watch Now
Future of Food
What’s Not to Love About Lab Grown Meat?
A future of eating meat without ethical or environmental implications is more real than ever before. But will people eat it food grown in a lab?
Watch Now

A future of eating meat without ethical or environmental implications is more real than ever before. While plant-based alternatives are growing in popularity, the real black horse with game-changing potential seems to be actual meat… grown in science labs. The question at this point is not whether this approach is viable or scalable, but simply: will people want to eat it?

Future of Food
3D-Printed Vegan Steak Is Heading to Restaurants in 2020
vegan steak
Future of Food
3D-Printed Vegan Steak Is Heading to Restaurants in 2020
Israeli startup Redefine Meat has announced the Alt-Steak, a plant-based vegan steak that it claims mimics the texture and taste of beef.

Israeli startup Redefine Meat has announced the Alt-Steak, a plant-based vegan steak that it claims mimics the texture and taste of beef.

Dispatches
Supercharging Photosynthesis Can Grow 40% More Food
Supercharging Photosynthesis Can Grow 40% More Food
Dispatches
Supercharging Photosynthesis Can Grow 40% More Food
We need a lot more calories to feed a growing world, and these scientists may have figured out how to get them.
By Amanda Cavanagh

We need a lot more calories to feed a growing world, and these scientists may have figured out how to get them.

Future of Food
These Pioneers are Building the Sustainable Food Systems of Tomorrow
These Pioneers are Building the Sustainable Food Systems of Tomorrow
Future of Food
These Pioneers are Building the Sustainable Food Systems of Tomorrow
In a new Freethink original series, Michael O'Shea goes around the world to introduce us to the scientists who are working hard to ensure that we can feed our future world.

There are currently over 7 billion human beings alive on Earth --- and in 2050 the world's population will rise by almost 2 billion. That's a lot more mouths to feed considering that roughly 11 percent of the world goes hungry today. "in the next 40 years, we need to produce the same amount of food as we did over the last 8,000 years." Ernst van den...

Growing Food with Seawater
Growing Food with Seawater
Watch Now
Growing Food with Seawater
This designer invented a greenhouse that lets you grow food with seawater.
Watch Now

Water is in short supply in much of the world — but what if we use seawater? It’s been a dream for years, but now technology is making it possible. This new seawater greenhouse uses a clever cardboard design to distill fresh water from salt water cheaply and efficiently. It’s helping grow crops in Somaliland, and could help stop the water crisis in Africa and other parts of the world that are susceptible to drought. The...

What It Takes
How NASA’s Space Food Lab Will Feed the Farthest Journey in History
How NASA’s Space Food Lab Will Feed the Farthest Journey in History
Watch Now
What It Takes
How NASA’s Space Food Lab Will Feed the Farthest Journey in History
These food scientists are making it possible for us to explore space in ways we haven’t yet as a species.
Watch Now

Space food isn’t just that astronaut ice cream you had as a kid. NASA’s kitchens are hard at work preparing a new menu of space food for the farthest trip in history - the flight to Mars. This space food is more advanced even than food on the International Space Station - it needs to last for five years, more than two years longer than it can currently. That’s enough time to get to Mars and back, and serve as an emergency...