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Lab-grown chicken coming to restaurant tables and, eventually, stores

Lab-grown chicken coming to restaurant tables
Lab-grown chicken coming to restaurant tables 01:56

The age of lab-grown chicken is taking flight at one of chef José Andrés' famed Washington, D.C., restaurants, where diners will have the chance to be some of the first people to taste what researchers have been working on for years.

The chicken doesn't come from a bird, but is instead grown from chicken cells. Good Meat, the California-based company supplying the lab-grown poultry, calls it cultivated chicken.

"Cultivating meat is a way of starting with a cell and ending with chicken, beef, pork, without all the other issues in between," said company cofounder and CEO Josh Tetrick.

The chicken cells are bathed in a nutrient broth in tanks called bioreactors.

"The genetic profile is the same as a slaughtered chicken," Tetrick told CBS News.

Federal regulators in June approved the sale of lab-grown meat from Good Meat, based in Alameda, and the nearby Berkley-based Upside Foods.  

Environmental advocates say cultivating meat is more sustainable compared to traditional livestock farming because it uses less water and land. But some researchers say the environmental impacts of cultivating meat will need to be closely monitored as the industry grows.

"Just by the virtue of creating this meat in a lab doesn't necessarily mean it's better for the environment," said Ned Spang, an associate professor of food science and technology at UC Davis.

The other question: Will people eat it?

While there were some who didn't care for the lab-grown meat, many people CBS News spoke to in Alameda said they did.

"If you didn't know, you wouldn't really question it," one woman said.

Diners can reserve their chance to try it at Andres' China Chilcano in the nation's capital, where it will be available as part of a tasting menu. Reservations for the first seating sold out in four minutes.   

The cultivated chicken won't land in stores until the companies figure out how to scale up production. Good Meat's next target? Beef.

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