Meat in petri dish

Petri dish to dinner plate, in-vitro meat coming soon

Scientists are cooking up new ways of satisfying the world’s ever-growing hunger for meat. “Cultured meat” – burgers or sausages grown in laboratory petri dishes rather than made from slaughtered livestock – could be the answer that feeds the world, saves the environment and spares the lives of millions of animals. [This topic has generated much media coverage this year – this is the latest article found. Ed]

Granted, it may take a while to catch on. And it won’t be cheap.

The first lab-grown hamburger will cost around 250,000 euros ($345,000) to produce, according to Mark Post, a vascular biologist at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands, who hopes to unveil such a delicacy soon.

Experts say the meat’s potential for saving animals’ lives, land, water, energy and the planet itself could be enormous.

“The first one will be a proof of concept, just to show it’s possible,” Post told Reuters in a telephone interview from his Maastricht lab. “I believe I can do this in the coming year.”

It may sound and look like some kind of imitation, but in-vitro or cultured meat is a real animal flesh product, just one that has never been part of a complete, living animal – quite different from imitation meat or meat substitutes aimed at vegetarians and made from vegetable proteins like soy.

Using stem cells harvested from leftover animal material from slaughterhouses, Post nurtures them with a feed concocted of sugars, amino acids, lipids, minerals and all other nutrients they need to grow in the right way.

So far he has produced whitish pale muscle-like strips, each of them around 2.5 cm (1 inch) long, less than a centimeter wide and so thin as to be almost see-through.

Pack enough of these together – probably around 3,000 of them in layers – throw in a few strips of lab-grown fat, and you have the world’s first “cultured meat” burger, he says.

“This first one will be grown in an academic lab, by highly trained academic staff,” he said. “It’s hand-made and it’s time and labor-intensive, that’s why it’s so expensive to produce.”

Not to mention a little unappetising. Since Post’s in-vitro meat contains no blood, it lacks colour. At the moment, it looks a bit like the flesh of scallops, he says.

Like all muscle, these lab-grown strips also need to be exercised so they can grow and strengthen rather than waste away. To do this Post exploits the muscles’ natural tendency to contract and stretches them between Velcro tabs in the Petri dish to provide resistance and help them build up strength….

Reuters: Read full article here

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