Scientists in the Netherlands have created a five-ounce hamburger by assembling tiny bits of beef muscle tissue they grew in a laboratory.
The lab created burger cost scientists $325,000 to produce and will be cooked up and served at several London, England based events in the coming weeks.
Known as in-Vitro meat or cultured meat, the researchers are hoping to gain research funds to further their project. The first round of funding was provided to the team via a donor who wishes to remain anonymous.
The burger required the creations of tens of billions of cells which were cultured from the neck of a cow obtained at a slaughterhouse.
Researchers began working on the cultured meat project after a 2011 study published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology found that full-scale in-Vitro meat could greatly reduce water, land and energy use. Cultured meat would also greatly reduce methane gases created by animals.
The group cultured the meat through the use of stem cells and medical research that recently examined how to grow tissues and organs in a lab, a practice known as tissue engineering.
Growing meat in a lab is still a time consuming and expensive project which resulted in a $325,000 hamburger. Essentially, the burger consists of 20,000 thin strips of cultured muscle tissue.
At this time, there is no fat on the hamburger, which has resulted in a “reasonably good” product which will be served only with salt and pepper during the first taste testing in London.
The entire hamburger unfortunately is not fully created with non-animal parts. Fetal calf serum was still used to grow the cells, although scientists plan to replace that portion with non-animal products in the future.
While the burger aims to lower methane gases solve other issues, there are still some in the scientific community who worry that it may not be safe enough for consumption on a mass scale. Other researchers worry that the burgers simply won’t live up to the taste consumers have come to expect.
3-D bioprinting is still in its infancy, but, as that technology and other research hurdles are met, the cost of producing the meat will inevitably fall. Researchers even note that by forgoing the kill process they are already reducing waste by focusing on just the meat and not the other parts of animals which are often discarded.
In the meantime, researchers from around the world continue to find new and exciting ways to create cultured meat.
Are you ready to eat a real meat product that doesn’t come from the slaughtering of animals?