(HealthDay News) – Americans could soon be eating “lab-grown” chicken at upscale restaurants after the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved products made by two companies on Wednesday.

Upside Foods and Good Meat, both based in California, will be the first in the United States to sell meat that’s cultivated in a laboratory rather than from slaughtered animals.

The meat is still actually meat, coming from animal cells, fertilized eggs or stored cells.

“Instead of all of that land and all of that water that’s used to feed all of these animals that are slaughtered, we can do it in a different way,” Josh Tetrick, co-founder and chief executive of Eat Just, which operates Good Meat, told the Associated Press.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration had already determined the products were safe to eat, the AP reported.

Manufacturing company Joinn Biologics was given the go-ahead to make products, which will initially be sold at the restaurant Bar Crenn in San Francisco in the case of Upside products, and at restaurant in Washington, D.C., run by chef Jose Andrés in the case of Good Meat.

Singapore was the first country to begin allowing cultivated meat, the AP reported.

The meat is grown in steel tanks, coming out in large sheets and then cut into expected shapes.

The Upside chicken looks slightly paler, but has the same appearance, smell and taste of chicken once cooked, the AP reported.

“The most common response we get is, ‘Oh, it tastes like chicken,’” Amy Chen, Upside’s chief operating officer, told the AP.

Good Meat’s chicken will come pre-cooked and only need reheating.

About half of U.S. adults surveyed in a recent poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research said they were not likely to eat lab-grown meat because “it just sounds weird” or they thought it would be unsafe.

Still, “it is the meat that you’ve always known and loved,” Chen said.

The meat is made by taking the chicken cells and combining them with a broth of amino acids, fatty acids, sugars, salts, vitamins and other elements cells need to grow, the AP reported. The cells grow in tanks, taking about three weeks to mature.

More than 150 companies from around the world are working on creating chicken, pork, beef and lamb from cells, the AP said.

Still, it’s unlikely consumers will see cultivated meat in grocery stores soon because it can’t be produced on a large scale yet and is expensive, Ricardo San Martin, director of the Alt:Meat Lab at University of California, Berkeley, told the AP.

San Martin said he’s concerned that cultivated meat may end up being only for rich people, which would not have as much environmental impact.

“If some high-end or affluent people want to eat this instead of a chicken, it’s good,” he said. “Will that mean you will feed chicken to poor people? I honestly don’t see it.”

More information

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has more on cultured meat.

SOURCE: Associated Press