Eat Just, an Alameda company known for its vegan alternatives to eggs and mayo, has received a regulatory greenlight from the Food and Drug Administration for its lab-grown chicken product, bringing it one step closer to commercial availability.
The regulator sent the company a “no questions” letter in response to a safety submission for its cultured chicken, which means that the agency has come to the conclusion that the product is safe to eat.
In the U.S., cell-cultured chicken products are jointly regulated by the FDA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is the next regulatory hurdle the company faces.
Eat Just is one of a number of companies looking to use cellular engineering to create meat without the environmental, ethical and financial costs of traditional agriculture. The FDA’s memo follows a similar notice it gave to competitor Upside Foods last November for its own chicken product.
Eat Just became the first to sell its cultivated meat products to the public when it first won approval to sell its product in Singapore in 2020. The company says it has sold thousands of dishes in Singapore that use its chicken product.
Earlier this year, the company said that it would cut 18% of its workforce—around 40 jobs—as it sought to reach profitability. Staff at Good Meat, the company’s cell-based meat division, however, were not impacted by the layoffs.
Celebrity chef José Andrés, who sits on the board of Good Meat, plans to be the first to serve Eat Just’s chicken product at one of his restaurants in Washington, D.C., once it is officially approved.
“We have a responsibility to look beyond the horizon for smarter, sustainable ways to eat. GOOD Meat is doing just that, pushing the boundary on innovative new solutions, and I’m excited for everyone to taste the result,” Andrés said in a statement.
Eat Just CEO Joshua Tetrick said in an previous interview that he was driven by a belief that it would be easier to reform the food system with a product that is scientifically meat—rather than a plant-based alternative.
“I’d say the vast majority of customers we’re going after right now are like me. So they generally get the issues; they may not be able to recite the statistics, but they know something’s amiss with the current ways of doing things,” Tetrick said.
“More broadly, though, our customer eventually needs to be someone who loves meat, wants to keep eating meat and doesn’t care about that feeling at all. When we get to that consumer, a much more transformational change will happen,” he added.
Kevin Truong can be reached at [email protected]