Science Sustainability

Slaughter-Free, Cell-Cultured Chicken Set To Debut In The USA This Year

Photo courtesy of Upside Foods

For years, we’ve been getting teasers of what lab-grown meat could look like, with videos and commentary on cell-cultured meatballs, fried chicken, and more promising a future where meat could be made without killing animals.

That future could take a monumental step forward this year, as Memphis Meats, which just changed its name to Upside Foods, announced that it plans to debut a cell-cultured chicken in the USA by the end of 2021.

Photo courtesy of Upside Foods

Upside’s product, called Upside Chicken, is made by taking a sample of chicken cells and placing it in a nutrient-rich environment. The cells have everything they need to grow on their own and develop into chicken meat.

Claims that Upside makes about this chicken is that it could have a massive impact from a sustainability point, and also limits bacterial contamination since the meat is “cultivated in a clean facility from cell to harvest.” The company is also working with the USDA and the FDA to ensure quality standards of production are met.

Photo courtesy of Upside Foods

Similar to a plant-based meat purveyor like Impossible Foods or Beyond Meat, Upside’s goal is to limit the environmental impact of modern meat production. Instead of taking out meat entirely, however, Upside is using a slaughter-free method that makes the exact same chicken we all know and readily consume.

Pending regulatory approval, Upside plans to launch their chicken product by the end of the year, although no official launch date has been confirmed as of yet. Upside has confirmed to Foodbeast, however, that the plan is to debut their cultured meat in restaurants first.

What we do know, however, is that previous studies have shown that at least a third of Americans are open to trying the product, meaning there is a market and a possibility that cultured meat weaves itself into the future of how we produce and eat meat.

Fast Food Science What's New

KFC Is First Major Chain To Announce Research Into Lab-Grown Meat

With the search for more sustainable meat options in fast food expanding, KFC has taken a pivotal step in getting major chains to consider lab-grown meat as a potential solution.

KFC’s global team announced in a press release that they were looking into making nuggets that utilize chicken cells as part of the process, making them the first major to chain to publicly announce that cellular agriculture could be an option for them.

These nuggets are being developed in conjunction with 3D Bioprinting Solutions, a Russia-based company known for creating prosthetic organs. The resulting nuggets will use some plant material, but also use cells from chickens to “reproduce the taste and texture of chicken meat almost without involving animals in the process,” according to the release.

KFC will provide spice blends and other ingredient needs to make the nuggets taste like their signature chicken, while 3D Bioprinting will come up with the blend of meat/plant cells needed to get the texture down right.

Lab-grown meat, also known as laboratory-produced, cellular, or cultured meat, has been proposed as an alternative to factory farm-raised meat because it has the potential to scale to global meat consumption levels while reducing environmental costs.

While companies claim that lab-made meat reduces land use, water use, and methane emissions, research has also shown that the technology could increase carbon dioxide emissions. All of this research is still speculative, however, since none of these products have been produced at a commercial scale yet.

Several companies in the United States, including Memphis Meats and JUST, have begun making breakthroughs on lab-grown meatballs, nuggets, and more in recent years. Although there’s still regulatory issues surrounding the technology, the appetite for lab-grown animal products has increased globally, with meat giants like Tyson backing brands working on cellular meat products.

KFC plans to test a prototype of this collaboration in Moscow as early as Fall of 2020.

Restaurants Science Technology What's New

Chicken Nuggets Made Without Harming A Single Bird Will Hit Restaurants This Year

JUST, who used to be known as Hampton Creek, just shocked the world by announcing that they intend to get cultured chicken nuggets into restaurants by the end of 2018.

That means that JUST can take something like a chicken feather and turn it into nuggets. They’re not actually adding the feather into anything, but are instead using it as a tissue sample from which meat can be cultivated.

chicken nuggets

Photo courtesy of JUST

JUST’s head of communications, Andrew Noyes, described it as a “small, harmless biopsy” that inflicts no pain on the animal.

From there, the best cells are grown from that sample, and production afterward is quick, taking just a few weeks. In the largest commercial scale JUST hopes to reach, it would take two days to produce enough meat to make a chicken nugget.

Their team is working on improving that production efficiency, including the creation of a serum-free media that’s one of the bigger challenges to scaling and commercializing that process. However, JUST does have enough production capacity at this point where they’re ready to unleash cultured chicken nuggets to the world.


Product concept illustration courtesy of JUST. Not an actual product or something being created in the near term.



Pending regulatory approval, JUST aims to complete their first sale of the nuggets (or another chicken product) by the end of the year. This will likely not happen in the United States, where the USDA and FDA are still hashing out regulations, however, small-scale restaurants in other parts of the world may be able to incorporate them soon.

Just last year, food technology company Memphis Meats announced it was working on lab-grown fried chicken, and it came with a notice that they were planning to have the “cultured meat” in grocery stores by 2021. It seemed like a far time away, and looked like nobody else was as close to a commercial product as they were, but JUST undercut that time frame with this announcement.

The end of year launch would be far faster than anyone anticipated, and accelerates the “clean meat” movement into the present day, rather than as a part of the future.

Science Technology

Beef Industry Goes After Lab-Grown Startups, Wants USDA To Label Them As ‘Not Meat’

The rise of lab-grown meat in recent months has finally drawn the attention of the beef industry. Now, they’re trying to cut the cultured meat newcomers’ legs from underneath them before they have a chance to even get started.


Photo courtesy of Memphis Meats.

Business Insider reports that the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association has petitioned the USDA to ask that lab-grown meat not be allowed to be called “meat.” The 15-page petition calls for the USDA to strictly define “meat” and “beef” as coming from animals that are raised and slaughtered. Since the whole draw of lab-grown is that it can be done without killing the animal, it would force companies like Memphis Meats to find a new name for their products: one that’s likely less attractive than “clean meat.”

The USCA’s challenge to the cultured meat industry brings to light one of the biggest questions surrounding the technological breakthrough:

Is lab-grown meat really meat?

Technically, products like Memphis Meats’ fried chicken are grown from the live tissue of an animal until they’re the size of a typical portion of protein. However, Evan Marks, founder and president of The Ecology Center, noted on Foodbeast’s podcast The Katchup that lab-grown meat signified that we are “separating from nature,” which made him feel uneasy about the tech.

Here’s what members of the Foodbeast fam had to say when asked if lab-grown meat is real meat or not:

Richard Guinto

“Meat is meat. Yeah, it’s meat. What would you call cultured or lab-grown meat, then? It’s meat!”

Rudy Chaney

“I consider Kraft singles cheese even though they might not consider them cheese. But I know it’s cheese and that it’s made from cheese. So, I consider it meat. I don’t know if I like it or if I’d wanna eat it, but, technically, it’s meat.”

Evan Lancaster

“No. Because it doesn’t come off an animal that’s like, living. It’s grown on culture that’s not necessarily natural. It’s man-made, so therefore I feel like it’s a fabricated meat product. When we consider meat, we gotta be very conscious of it coming out of a womb and being born into the world, not created by man.”

Isai Rocha

“It still derives from an animal, right? I can see why it could be meat, but I would say no. I feel like that’s more toward the vegan style of making up your own meat, even though it still comes from an animal. I’d probably give it it’s own name, it’s own category.”

Rishu Bharadwaj

“No, because it’s not originally what we would consider meat. I guess you could call it meat, but it needs to be dead first.”

Chris Abouabdo

“To reasonably answer that question, you have to understand what the definition of meat is. I would consider it to be the flesh of animals, so if it was grown in a lab or cut off of a freshly slaughtered cow, I don’t know if there’s a difference.”

Peter Pham

“I think it’s considered meat, as long as it comes from a source that originates from some form of meat.”

Memphis Meats and other clean meat producers will likely look to combat the USCA’s petition, which they can do by submitting their own petition or other memo to the USDA asking to not consider the USCA’s request. Whether that happens or not will be interesting to see as the legal battle between traditional and lab-grown meat intensifies.

Science Technology

Tyson Invests In Memphis Meats, Lab-Grown Meat Will Debut Before You Know It

Poultry giant Tyson is continuing its investments in the future of meat by getting involved with a lab-grown meat startup: Memphis Meats. Tyson’s involvement could mean that we get this so-called “clean meat” in stores a lot sooner than expected.

memphis meatsPhoto courtesy of Memphis Meats

Memphis Meats made waves early last year when they debuted a piece of lab-grown fried chicken. Made without killing a single bird, muscle cells are instead extracted from an animal and grown on a medium that allows it to swiftly replicate into pieces of meat. Memphis Meats has also made “clean” beef meatballs and duck using their proprietary technology.

Tyson’s new minority stake in the startup shows their commitment to looking at new ways to produce meat or meat analogs. It also increases the sustainability image of the firm, as lab-grown meat can potentially decrease water/land usage and greenhouse gas emissions by up to 90 percent compared to traditional livestock raising.

Terms of the investment were not disclosed in the company’s press release, but Tyson now joins big names like Bill Gates, Cargill, and Richard Branson as minority owners in Memphis Meats.

Tyson has also recently injected more money into Beyond Meat, a plant-based burger company already taking hold in grocery stores across the nation. The chicken-producing empire owns more than 5 percent of Beyond Meat at this point.

For Memphis, Tyson’s new investment means the opportunity to accelerate product development. As of last year, the cultured meat company was hoping to have its meat in stores by 2021. The fresh injection of cash should accelerate that timeline, as Memphis is currently looking to expand its team to make that possible.

Culture News Technology

Study Says One Third Of Americans Would Regularly Eat Lab-Grown Meat

Image courtesy of Memphis Meats.

Lab-grown meat producers Memphis Meats broke the internet a couple of weeks ago when they introduced their “clean” fried chicken and duck. It’s a telling sign that lab-grown meat, also known as cultured meat, is becoming a more significant part of the discussion of the future of meat.

With that in mind, researchers at the University of Queensland in Australia decided to survey a group of over 600 Americans — none of whom had tried any cultured meat products — to answer one key question:

“Would you be willing to try or eat lab-grown meat?”

Through a series of detailed questions about the subjects’ backgrounds and attitudes on lab-grown meat, the researchers concluded that about two-thirds of those surveyed would be willing to try lab-grown meat. A third of the total group also said they would be down to regularly consume lab-grown meat.

Of course, not everybody was on board. The study also found that a fourth of participants considered cultured meat to be “unethical” and those with higher incomes or vegetarian/vegan lifestyles were less likely to eat this meat, even if they agreed that it was better for the environment.

There’s no question that lab-grown meat is better for the environment, as Memphis Meats claims they can cut down their water, land, and emissions by a staggering 90 percent compared to conventional farming of meat. With the general consensus in place that factory-raised meat is going to be unsustainable within the next 30 years, alternatives like lab-grown meat are looking better to those who would be unable to obtain meat otherwise.

And with this significant proportion of Americans saying they would either try or eat lab-grown meat, it’s becoming even more clear that it will be a vital part of the future of food.

Culture Film/Television Technology The Katchup

Can This Piece Of Fried Chicken Save The World? [The Katchup Podcast]

This past week, Memphis Meats broke the internet by introducing a piece of fried chicken made without killing a single animal. Their “clean” cultured meat that’s been grown in a lab is the company’s latest in a string of successes around lab-grown meat. Memphis Meats’ hope is to become a significant part of the world’s meat supply as livestock becomes unsustainable to raise in factory-farmed, mass-scale settings over the next couple of decades.

With that story buzzing around, one has to pop the question: is lab-grown meat truly necessary to save the world’s food supply?

That’s what was discussed in this week’s episode of The Katchup, Foodbeast’s podcast that covers the hottest stories in food from the past week. Foodbeast Editor-in-Chief Elie Ayrouth moderated a fiery discussion between UPROXX’s Steve Bramucci and The Ecology Center’s Founder and President Evan Marks on lab-grown meat and the future of food.

Photo courtesy of Memphis Meats.

While both Steve and Evan are supportive of a future of food that doesn’t rely on factory farming, they represent opposite stances about the usage of lab-grown meat to make that future possible, with Steve supporting and Evan against it. However, both clearly agree that there is a problem with our current food system.

Evan Marks claimed that in our current food system:

“The earth, farm labor, and us are typically the losers.”

Steve Bramucci agreed, and targeted his blame at humanity for getting us into this mess in the first place.

I don’t feel sorry for us if we have to use tech to solve everything we’ve fucked up.”

This led to some deep conversations and intense debates about our farm and livestock systems, sustainable agriculture, the relationship between technology and agriculture, and what the future of food should be.

How does that future look? You’ll have to listen to the podcast to answer that question for yourself.

Animals Health News Now Trending Products What's New

This Piece Of Real Fried Chicken Was Made Without Killing A Single Bird

Photo courtesy of Memphis Meats

What if I told you that the piece of fried chicken above was real chicken… but no bird had to be killed to make it? Would you believe me?

Well, whether you do or not, that’s what the above piece of chicken is. And it’s a world first.

Cultured meat producer Memphis Meats unveiled their newest lineup of “clean poultry” meats, which included pieces of duck and chicken that were grown in cultures and didn’t require the death of a single animal to produce.

While Memphis Meats and other cultured meat producers around the world have displayed their ability to create pieces of lab-grown, or “clean,” beef in the past, this is the first time that any company worldwide has been able to develop a piece of real poultry from just cultured poultry cells.

Photo courtesy of Memphis Meats

The company did invite a group of taste-testers to a kitchen in San Francisco to sample the chicken and duck for themselves. The chicken was prepared Southern style and deep fried, while the duck was served a l’orange. According to the Wall Street Journal, tasters described the chicken strip as slightly spongier than a chicken breast, but almost spot-on in terms of flavor. All of them said they would eat it again.

Photo courtesy of Memphis Meats

It definitely looks like a piece of chicken breast when cut open, as well.

Memphis Meats develops their cultured meat products in preparation for a future where traditional forms of meat production are no longer sustainable, since they use up too many of our natural resources, especially water and land. By culturing the meat cells and turning them into real meat products, Memphis Meats claims they can use up to 90% less water, land, and greenhouse gas emissions whilst eliminating the need for slaughterhouses.

Their efforts are backed by animal-welfare advocates, including PETA, which normally is against any form of animal consumption.

Memphis Meats aims to have their production scaled up and cost down to a point where they can sell their meats in stores by 2021.

Hey, if it tastes good and helps save the planet, I’m totally down.