Federal regulators gave final approval this week for lab-grown chicken to be sold within the United States by three suppliers, according to one of the companies, Upside Foods.
The processors getting the green light have indicated that they intend to introduce the meat to U.S. consumers by serving it first within high-end restaurants.
San Francisco celebrity chef Dominique Crenn pledged months ago to feature the cultured chicken at three of her restaurants as soon as it was cleared for market by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The popular chef and humanitarian José Andrés similarly pledged in March to put the lab-grown chicken of another supplier, Good Meat, on one of his menus as soon as a regulatory okay was issued.
The third supplier approved to sell cultured poultry is Joinn Biologics, which collaborates with Good Meat.
Lab-grown poultry has been eagerly awaited because of its expected environmental and humanitarian benefits. The meat is cultivated from a few cells inside a sterile laboratory-like setting that some compare to a spotless wine-making room. The cells are grown into chicken tissue inside huge stainless-steel drums.
Advocates stress that the process takes far less of a toll on the environment than conventional poultry farming. In addition, they point out that no creature has to be slaughtered, and no worker has to be exposed to the dangers of a slaughterhouse.
In interviews earlier this year, the suppliers indicated that their expenses are still significant because they’re not yet producing enough meat for the economies of scale to kick in. Plus, any significant demand would outstrip current production capabilities.
The supply situation is widely expected to keep the price of cultured chicken significantly above the cost of conventional poultry for some time.
This story originally appeared on WGB sister publication Restaurant Business.