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Tech Startup Debuts “Clean” Poultry Products

Memphis Meats makes nuggets and tenders using self-reproducing cells, taken from live animals and grown in laboratory-based bioreactor tanks.

Right now, "clean" chicken costs around $9,000 per pound - but that price is expected to go down in the coming years.

Forget that chicken that crossed the road — a new chicken is in town. Or is it a chicken at all?

San Francisco-based tech start-up Memphis Meats has figured out how to make chicken and duck products without actually killing any animals. Instead, the company makes nuggets and tenders using self-reproducing cells, taken from live animals and grown in laboratory-based bioreactor tanks. They call it “clean meat.”

If you’re excited to try it, you’ll have to wait. Right now it costs $9,000 per pound – or about $1,100 for a single chicken tender. Memphis Meats says they expect it to be ready for commercial sale by 2021.

Chicken and duck are the most slaughtered animals by humans for food across the globe, and the average American eats about 90 pounds of poultry per year. Traditional livestock production has dramatic climate consequences, and for some, ethical concerns.

Memphis Meats aims to curb those impacts, but their products are currently created using fetal serum from unborn calves and chicks. The company plans to replace that with a plant-based solution soon.

Clean meat may even make a believer out of the largest traditional meat producers. Tyson Foods recently bought a 5 percent stake in “clean” beef company Beyond Meat.

Read More:

  • Clean Chicken: Never Hatched or Slaughtered (Wall Street Journal)
  • The CEO of America’s biggest processor of meat is betting on a meatless future (Quartz)
  • A San Francisco startup just created the world’s first lab-grown chicken (Business Insider)
Taylor Killough

Taylor Killough has degrees anthropology and journalism. She has worked with the oral history project StoryCorps. A nomad at heart, she recently returned to Louisville, Kentucky, where's she's excited to have her own kitchen and garden again.

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