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Upside Foods’ chicken breast
Upside Foods’ chicken breast has the same flavor and texture of conventional chicken without the bones, risk of salmonella, and negative environmental impact. Source: Brian L. Frank/NPR

NPR recently got an inside look at cultivated meat company Upside Foods’ production facility, as reported in the article, “From science fiction to reality, ‘no kill’ meat may be coming soon”

Upside Foods (IndieBio 02) extracts cells from animals and brews them in tanks, feeding them the nutrients they need to grow, including amino acids, fats, sugar, and vitamins. NPR noted that Upside’s facility reflects the company’s transparent take on cultivated meat; its glass walls allow any passersby to see the cell banks that store animal cell samples, the pipes that deliver nutrients into the tanks, and the raw meat emerging from the facility. 

“To create a paradigm change, people should be able to walk through and see and believe it,” explained Upside’s CEO and co-founder Uma Valeti. 

Valeti, a cardiologist, originally came up with the idea for cultivated meat 15 years ago at the Mayo Clinic when he was growing human heart cells in a lab for heart attack patients. Using a similar science to grow meat, Valeti believes the cultivated meat market can significantly help the fight against climate change—considering one third of all human-produced greenhouse gasses come from food production.

Upside Foods’ first product, cultivated chicken, will not only cost approximately the same as conventional chicken but also tastes like the meat consumers know and love. When NPR’s Allison Aubrey commented that Upside’s product “tastes like chicken,” Valeti quickly responded, “It is chicken!”

NPR revealed that Upside is valued at more than a billion dollars with some heavy-hitter investors including Bill Gates and venture capitalist John Doerr. The company has also gained funding from household names in meat production like Cargill and Tyson. While Upside Foods has been under FDA review for four years, Valeti believes his company’s chicken will receive approval and go to production “in the very near future.”