Imagine a way to produce meat without slaughtering animals. Instead of raising livestock on farms, Uma Valeti, a cardiologist, and co-founder of Upside Foods, dreamt of a way to “grow” meat in a production facility, by culturing animal cells.
The concept for what’s now called “cultivated” meat came to Dr. Valeti when he was working with heart attack patients at the Mayo Clinic more than 15 years ago, growing human heart cells in a lab.
It should be possible to grow meat with similar science, he realized.
According to the Upside website:
Our chicken looks, cooks, and tastes like chicken because it is real chicken.
What makes our meat unique is how it’s cultivated: we take a small sample of healthy chicken cells. We place it in a nutrient-rich environment and allow it to grow into pure clean meat, ready to cook and enjoy.
We are working closely with the USDA and FDA to ensure our products follow the highest standards of production and quality in the world.
Of course, we start with optimal cells to develop the same mouthwatering texture, aroma, and taste of the chicken you love.
Scientists could extract cells from an animal via a needle biopsy, place them in tanks, feed them the nutrients they need to proliferate, including fats, sugar, amino acids and vitamins, and end up with meat.
Among the supporters of Upside, renowned vegetarian Moby, Bill Gates and Richard Branson.
It has taken years of experimentation by a crew of biologists, biochemists and engineers to turn that concept into a product ready to eat.
Now the company is awaiting a greenlight from the Food and Drug Administration to begin selling its first cultivated meat products, including a chicken fillet.
After four years of talks with regulators at the FDA, Dr. Valeti anticipates this could happen “in the very near future.”
When it does, Upside’s production facility in Emeryville, Calif., will be able to produce over 50,000 pounds of cultivated meat products per year.
The company says there will be 10 billion mouths to feed worldwide by 2050.