The basics

Cultivated meat is a game-changing alternative to conventionally produced meat that offers the potential to make meat in a healthier, safer, and more sustainable way. Cultivated meat is essentially the same as the beef, pork, chicken, and fish we eat today, but grown directly from animal cells, without the need for antibiotics, hormones, and steroids. 

By producing meat in this way, we can satisfy growing global demand for protein while reducing pressure on our planet and enhancing food security. When produced at scale using renewable energy, cultivated meat is projected to generate a fraction of the emissions and require a fraction of the land and water that conventional meat production does.

In November 2022, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration became the second regulatory agency worldwide to greenlight a cultivated meat product, setting out a clear path to market in the U.S. for cultivated meat companies under a transparent regulatory process. This historic news follows the Singapore Food Agency’s world-first approval of a cultivated meat product in late 2020.

Nomenclature consensus 

Following multiple consumer studies and corporate surveys, industry consensus has landed on cultivated as the preferred term for meat grown directly from the cell. 

New research conducted in December 2022 by Embold Research and commissioned by GFI demonstrates consumer preferences for using “cultivated meat” over other terms such as “cultured,” “lab-grown,” and “cell-based.”  These findings mirror the results of two other studies: a 2019 GFI-commissioned Mattson study, and a 2020 Rutgers seafood study commissioned by BlueNalu. Both studies found “cultivated” to be consumers’ preferred term. 

An illustration showing the nomenclature consensus for cultivated meat

Globally, cultivated meat companies and key industry stakeholders have aligned on “cultivated.” Just last month, 30 key industry stakeholders across Asia—from companies to regional coalition groups, and government initiatives—adopted “cultivated” as the preferred English-language descriptor for all food products grown directly from animal cells.

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Cultivated meat visual library

Our cultivated meat image library presents an ever-increasing selection of cultivated meat images available for use under Creative Commons licenses. Check out photos from Avant Meats, New Age Meats, Shiok Meats, Wild Type, BlueNalu, and more!

Cultivated meat FAQs

Read responses to some of the most frequently asked questions relating to cultivated meat.

What is cultivated meat? 

Cultivated meat is essentially the same as the beef, pork, chicken, and fish we eat today but grown directly from animal cells, without the need for antibiotics, hormones, and steroids. 

Cultivated meat is projected to generate a fraction of the emissions and require a fraction of the land and water of conventional meat production. When produced at scale using renewable energy, cultivated meat can cut emissions by 92 percent, and use up to 95 percent less land and 78 percent less water than conventional beef.

How does cultivated meat compare? 

On taste: Cultivated meat has the same smell, texture, and consistency as the meat consumers enjoy today. It will also taste the same or better than conventional meat—given the production methods, it could have a purer taste and stay fresher longer.

On health: Produced in a clean and controlled environment, cultivated meat doesn’t require the antibiotics, hormones, and steroids that can be a concern for conventional meat. It is free of contaminants and foodborne pathogens.

On the planet: Cultivating meat is more efficient than conventional production. When produced at commercial scale using renewable energy, meat made in this way could produce up to 92 percent less emissions, and use up to 95 percent less land and 78 percent less water when compared to conventional beef production.

Is cultivated meat safe? 

In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration is responsible for ensuring the safety of foods available in the U.S. market and, together with the USDA, will regulate the sale of cultivated meat. 

Each cultivated meat product will be assessed by the FDA as part of a rigorous pre-market safety review. Cultivated meat companies must then follow the same processes that conventional meat companies must follow to ensure safe product production and handling. 

The clean and controlled environment in which cultivated meat is produced will offer numerous advantages for product safety, including the elimination of contaminants and foodborne pathogens, as well as antibiotics and other additives.

Can cultivated meat improve public health? 

Cultivated meat can be made without the antibiotics, steroids, and other additives that can be a concern for conventional meat. This means that cultivated meat will not contribute to antibiotic resistance. Read our blog post and Nature Food article for more on cultivated meat and antibiotics. 

Cultivated meat is produced in facilities with cleaner conditions than conventional meat processing facilities. This reduces the risk of both foodborne illnesses and other diseases transmitted by animals, reducing the risk of future pandemics. According to the CDC, three out of four new or emerging infectious diseases in humans come from animals.

When and where can we buy it?

Commercial sales of a cultivated meat product were first approved in Singapore in late 2020, where such products continue to appear on select restaurant menus. 

In the U.S., the FDA gave the green light to a cultivated meat product from San Francisco based company UPSIDE Foods in November 2022 as part of the agency’s pre-market review process. This milestone paves the way for consumers to access these products in U.S. restaurants, but there are still a number of steps that need to be taken before this happens. 

UPSIDE says they “will now work with the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) to secure the remaining approvals that are required before UPSIDE Foods’ cultivated chicken can be sold to consumers.” 

UPSIDE has signed a partnership with chef Dominique Crenn who will serve the company’s cultivated chicken at her San Francisco restaurant, Atelier Crenn, when the product is approved for sale to consumers. Using Singapore as an example and considering UPSIDE’s partnership with Dominique Crenn, we anticipate that cultivated meat will make its U.S. debut in restaurants before the product is more widely produced and available in retail outlets.

Why is the FDA news significant? 

In November 2022, the FDA became the second regulatory agency worldwide to greenlight a cultivated meat product, setting out a clear path to market in the U.S. for cultivated meat companies under a transparent regulatory process. 

This milestone marks a significant de-risking event for this nascent industry, and we anticipate it will usher in a new wave of investment, talent, and innovations. People or companies who may have been waiting to see if cultivated meat can be a commercial reality in the U.S. in the near term can now roll up their sleeves and dive into this sector with greater confidence. Studies show that 80% of U.S. consumers report they are likely to try cultivated meat.

Words of support

From high-level government reports and directives to statements from leaders in industry and business, cultivated meat has been recognized as a powerful solution for creating a more resilient food system.

A photo of fda commissioner robert califf and director of the center for food safety and applied nutrition susan mayne

“The world is experiencing a food revolution and the FDA is committed to supporting innovation in the food supply. As an example of that commitment, today we are announcing that we have completed our first pre-market consultation of a human food made from cultured animal cells.”

FDA Commissioner Robert Califf and director of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition Susan Mayne in a press statement on November 16, 2022.

In his September 2022 executive order, U.S. President Joe Biden demanded action on “cultivating alternative food sources,” including cultivated meat and fermentation.
The order acknowledged the promise of “cultivating alternative food sources” and “looking to improve food security and drive agricultural innovation through new technologies…[including] foods made with cultured animal cells.”

U.S. President Joe Biden in his Executive Order on September 12, 2022
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Former secretary of agriculture sonny perdue

“We’re going to see these technologies go to places around the world that are more conducive to their development, and frankly China may be one of those.”
“We’ve got new technology with stem cell protein growth there. While some people may be anxious about taking their markets, shouldn’t we in the United States be about how we can grow and feed people more efficiently and more effectively … these techniques need to be embraced, not kept out of.”

Former Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue in a virtual fireside chat hosted by BIO in 2020 and in a 2018 interview with Organic Insider.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report

The IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report released in April, 2022, where the world’s top scientists name cultivated meat and other alternative proteins as transformative solutions which can play a critical role in halving global emissions by 2030. It states:

  • Emerging food technologies such as precision fermentation, cultivated meat, and plant-based foods can “promise substantial reductions in direct greenhouse gas emissions from food production” (TS. 5.6.2).
  • Citing a paper co-authored by GFI Israel senior scientist Tom Ben-Arye, the report acknowledges that, while in its infancy and reliant on increased investments, innovation, and regulatory approval, cultivated meat offers a more sustainable alternative to current livestock production systems and agricultural land use (7.3.3).
  • As well as reducing emissions, sustainable proteins like cultivated meat “lower land, water, and nutrient footprints, and address concerns over animal welfare” (TS. 5.6.2).
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Breakthrough Energy’s Federal Climate Policy Playbook

This resource includes policy recommendations for cultivated meat and other alternative proteins as a critical component of reaching net-zero emissions. It states:

“The federal government should invest in robust R&D to further explore innovations such as (…) cellular agriculture, including stable cell lines, optimized cell culture media for growing meat, novel methods of scaffolding support for muscle and fat cell growth, and improved bioreactor designs.”

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Industry resources

Read these related resources to learn more about the burgeoning field of cultivated meat.

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Cultivated meat’s regulatory pathway 

The FDA has completed its first safety evaluation for cultivated meat. What comes next? Learn more about cultivated meat’s regulatory path to market.

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State of the Industry Report: Cultivated meat

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Lab-grown meat receives clearance from F.D.A.

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Wall Street Journal: Cultivated meat explained

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CNN: Cultivated Meat’s global potential

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Are you working on a story?

Access our full selection of media resources, including reports, data, and insights from the world of alternative proteins.

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Get the latest news

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The featured image showing cultivated chicken is courtesy of GOOD Meat