SINGAPORE – Fish fillets and even fish mouths made from cell cultures instead of being slaughtered may soon appear on dinner tables here, with Chinese company Avant preparing to open a pilot plant to produce fish cells grown in Singapore by next year.
The facility, announced by the company on Monday, September 20, will come alongside a research laboratory from Avant and the Bioprocessing Technology Institute of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A * Star), which focuses on how to expand the production of food grade farmed fish.
The joint research laboratory for the bioprocessing of farmed fish will be located at Biopolis in Buona Vista, the biomedical center of Singapore.
Avant and A * Star said in a statement that research in the lab will look into developing solutions that will increase the production of cultured fish cells.
This includes, for example, identifying key factors that affect the growth of cultured fish cells, as well as processes to enhance it.
Avant, which develops technologies for culturing fish cells, has already successfully made products such as fish fillet, marine peptides and fish mouths via cell culture.
He will combine his expertise in the field with the aptitudes of the A * Star Institute in research and development of bioprocesses, including bioprocesses of animal cells.
Ms. Carrie Chan, co-founder and CEO of Avant, said: “The collaboration will accelerate breakthroughs in methods of optimizing the cell culture process for meat production. It will achieve the efficiency of the process and the reduction of costs initially for the fish cells.
She added that the knowledge gained from research in this area can also potentially be applied to the culture of other types of cells.
Many research groups in Singapore are planning to grow different animal cells for use in food, including chicken, pork, and seafood, amid growing global interest in alternative proteins and how they can. help reduce the massive carbon footprint of raising livestock for food.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the livestock sector produces around 15% of all global greenhouse gas emissions.
But to date, only one of those cell culture products – the chicken bites grown by California-based startup Eat Just – has received regulatory approval to be sold in Singapore. Such products have not yet been approved by any other regulatory authority in the world.
Cultured meat refers to meat products made from animal cells growing in a bioreactor – similar to vats used for brewing beer – instead of slaughtering animals. The cells are taken from the animal by methods such as a biopsy.
Such a method of meat production is considered more sustainable because large volumes can be produced involving less land and labor.
Being able to produce meat grown in a building, instead of requiring acres of land for rearing livestock, could also boost food security in land-scarce Singapore.
In addition, since the whole process of meat cultivation takes place in a controlled environment, there is less need to use antibiotics in the production of such meat.
Avant and A * Star’s latest announcement follows the opening of the world’s first commercial facility producing farmed chicken in Singapore.
The Ayer Rajah Crescent facility of Esco Aster, a local contract development and manufacturing organization, received approval and began production of Eat Just cultured chicken in July, the Straits Times reported last week. .
In Singapore, companies producing cultured meat products must complete and submit safety assessments of their products for review by the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) before they are allowed for sale.
These assessments cover potential food safety risks, including the toxicity and safety of production methods. Detailed information on the materials used in the manufacturing processes and how they are controlled to prevent food safety risks should also be provided, an SFA spokesperson told the Straits Times earlier.
Companies wishing to manufacture these approved products in Singapore must obtain a separate SFA license.
Dr Koh Boon Tong, executive director of A * Star’s Bioprocessing Technology Institute, said the Covid-19 pandemic has underscored the importance for the biomedical industry to remain adaptable and innovative.
He added, “Cultivated seafood and meat is a great example of how the bioproduction sector can pivot to meet emerging needs. BTI is delighted to partner and collaborate with Avant to make this happen.