Will you like to eat Lab prepared Meat?

Lab-grown meat: From Future Perspective

Lab-grown meat is properly known as cell-cultured meat because the scientific process by which the meat is made is cell culture or tissue culture.

Fat or muscle stem cells are taken from either a live, healthy animal via a painless biopsy, or one which is already in the meat processing system. For poultry species, cells can be taken from eggs.

The cell is placed in a large stainless-steel tank called a cultivator where it is fed nutrients until it divides and grows. The cell is also given growth factor components, which are signals that tell it what to do. 

Would you like to eat Lab prepared Meat?
Will you like to eat Lab prepared Meat?

The process takes two to three weeks depending on the type of meat being produced. In the end, the cells grow into a whole meat piece and is shaped into burgers, nuggets or chicken strips.

Memphis Meats, another California start-up, wants to bring lab-grown meat to the mainstream.

Vice President Steve Myrick says, 'We need a collaborative effort from major food industries so we can achieve food security across the world, including every region and income level.'

Cardiologist Uma Valeti, stem cell biologist Nicholas Genovese and tissue engineer William Clem founded Memphis Meats in 2015. The San Francisco based company has received investment from Richard Branson and Bill Gates.


Advantages of alternative meat

Alternative meats are one answer to our appetite for protein. Both technologies offers a 'real' meat taste without many of the issues that come with farming, including animal cruelty.

'We stabilize the cells so we can continue to use them indefinitely,' explains Steve. 'The cells we're using now were originally procured three to four years ago. We're aiming to go completely animal-free in future.'

Both approaches also avoid risks that come with conventional farming, which is often responsible for viruses that transfer from animals to humans. Meat markets are thought to be the source of COVID-19, the pandemic that stopped the world in 2020.

Likewise, scientists can be clearer about what's going into both plant-based and lab-grown meat and are in complete control of the nutrition profile. For instance, they can adjust the ratio of good and bad cholesterol and fatty acids in a product.

'We've found there are a lot of ways of fine-tuning the end product based on what we do at that stage, like the feed we give the cells and some of the decisions and production processes we go through,' says Steve. 'We can really adjust the taste, texture, aroma and in some cases, nutrition profile.'

Another big advantage of alternative meat is nothing goes to waste. In a cell-culturing process, scientists only produce what is needed, and leave out brain, bones and skin. And in a vegan burger, no animal parts are needed at all.

'With cell-cultured meat, we only need to produce the product that ultimately goes to the consumer,' says Steve.

Both lab-grown and plant-based meats have big sustainability claims.

'Humans only receive about 3% of the raw materials that goes into a cow,' adds Chris at Impossible Foods. 'Farmers work really hard to generate corn and soy and by funnelling it through cows, 97% of that usually ends up in water or atmosphere as greenhouse gases.

'Can you imagine any other commodity industry on the planet like oil or mining, throwing away 97% of their raw materials?'

And while there is some unavoidable waste in terms of energy and water when producing lab-grown meat, it is significantly less than conventional farming.


Health credentials

A spokesperson for British Nutrition Foundation (BNF), a British charity that provides impartial, factual information on food and nutrition, says, 'It is too early to tell whether lab-grown meat could have any negative effects.

'There isn't any information on the nutritional profile of such food, although it may be possible to manipulate it so it has the same nutritional value as conventional meat.

'This depends on what is achievable when making lab-grown meat on an industrial scale, and what consumers want from these products.'

Chris says, 'Right now, our plant-based meat matches conventional meat. In future, our products will be healthier and more nutritious than the animal product as we control every ingredient that goes into it.

'We will also probably have to make a plant-based meat for everything to really tackle conventional agriculture - from swordfish sashimi to quail eggs.'

We know more about how good plant-based meat can be for the body.

BNF says, 'For plant-based meat alternatives, the recommendations would be to choose options that are lower in saturated fat and salt.

'Foods based on vegetables and pulses tend to be lower in saturates and calories and higher in fibre than a meat-based product, but replicating the taste and texture of means you need to add a certain amount of fat and salt to get a similar profile, so these products could be less healthy options.'



It is unlikely real meat will be completely eliminated any time soon. Some parts of the world rely on it, and the future of meat production will most likely be a combination of all three methods.

Steve says, 'I anticipate Memphis Meats products going mainstream in the next 10 to 20 years but also being a part of the human diet alongside conventional meat, plant-based meat alternatives, and a number of other protein sources. We need all the tools in our toolkit to feed humanity.'

Chris says, 'In 50 years from now, the science driven food - whatever that ends up looking like - will taste better and be cheaper than the animal derived food.

'We're starting to move in the right direction, but the question is, are we moving fast enough? Can we stop people eating meat fast enough to save the rainforest?'

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