Lab-grown meat: can it save our bacon?

The feedback from restaurants? A surprised: “Oh, this tastes like chicken.”.

In 2019, the United States cultured meat business began selling vegan eggs made from mung beans. Compared to traditional eggs, their version required 98 per cent less water to produce, used 86 percent less land and emitted 93 per cent fewer CO2 emissions. Or so they said..

” We see a place on the planet … where standard meat seems like the horse and buggy, conventional meat seems like a flip phone,” states Tetrick..

A year later, they started selling lab-made chicken in Singapore, the worlds very first cultivated meat item authorized for human consumption. Compared with a conventional chicken, it required 78 per cent less water, 95 percent less land, and emitted 92 percent less CO2 emissions, according to the firm..

We now know that the egg came. Then the chicken. At least, thats how Eat Just has done things.

No-kill burgers, low-carbon steaks, rewilded farmland– thats what the cultured meat industry guarantees. Can it deliver?

Not the reaction a chef would conventionally desire to hear, but it was great news for Josh Tetrick, the CEO and co-founder of Eat Just. Their GOOD Meat chicken had passed the taste test and made it to market. Now the business intends to scale up production.

But will cultured meat intake ever overtake standard meat?

Some in the cultured meat sector believe that its possible to get rid of the requirement to raise animals for food completely. One analysis into cultivated meat production estimated that the switch from conventional meat would utilize up to 95 percent less land.

” Were already at breaking point,” says Seren Kell, science and technology supervisor for the Good Food Institute Europe (GFI). “We have to discover an option.”.

A double win.

Worldwide meat production has more than quadrupled considering that 1961. Livestock production is now responsible for an estimated 14.5 per cent of human-induced greenhouse gas emissions.

” Its a double win,” states Kell. “That land can then be a carbon and go sink if you use it for rewilding, reforestation and any other prospective carbon storage innovations.”.

A non-profit organisation promoting research into cell-based meats, the GFI has called for more government financial investment to assist develop a more effective food system.

” Most of the calories are lost as part of growing and being an animal,” Kell says, “and after that you dont even eat most of the animal.” A chicken needs to consume nine calories to produce one calorie of meat.

The world has a food production problem. Our existing agricultural processes imply we will not have enough land available to feed an approximated 10 billion individuals by 2050.

We see a location worldwide where traditional meat feels like the horse and buggy.

Thats not all. Animals uses an estimated 77 per cent of all farming land, but only makes up 18 per cent of our food supply. More than three-quarters of the soy produced worldwide is utilized to feed livestock.

Animals is a huge driver of greenhouse gas emissions. Is cultured meat the response? Image: Illiya Vjestica.

Can it happen at the scale needed?

Then theres the question of whether the meat is grown in food- or pharma-grade conditions. Some professionals state the latter is needed, owing to how vulnerable cells will be to disease. This might rise costs..

The industry is now waiting on the green light from other regulatory authorities. “Were all set to go now,” says Tetrick. He thinks Eat Just might be in all significant United States sellers in the next three to six years.

Cultivated chicken meals at the Madame Fan dining establishment, Singapore. Image: Eat Just.

Theres nobody I can call and say, Hey, can I put an order for a 100,000-litre bioreactor?.

Mosa Meat in the Netherlands can produce a burger for around ₤ 7.50. Image: Sander Dalhuisen.

The Spanish government has actually invested in research study to introduce olive oil as the fat in cultivated meat to decrease its cholesterol levels. These are the exciting tweaks lab-grown meat might present to our mealtimes.

Since then, Post has established Mosa Meat, a cultured meat company based in the Netherlands. His firm can now produce a lab-grown burger for around EUR9 (₤ 7.50), which is a fraction of the original cost, but still substantially more pricey than a regular beef patty. McDonalds hamburgers cost ₤ 0.89 each– whichs after gherkins and margins have been added..

” This has actually never been done in the past,” states Kahan. “Its a moon-shot job and itll most likely take it a number of years to get outcomes that will be helpful to the industry. At the exact same time, the market itself is a moon-shot.”.

Through its modelling, the CMMC wants to find some answers. It will get results on everything from how a bioreactors geometry can impact cells, to how different feeding schedules affect cell development.

Another obstacle is that the amino acids required for cell-culture media– the medium in which the animal cells are grown– arent readily available in the amounts needed for food production today. It likewise accounts for more than 90 percent of production expenses.

Highlighting the scale of the challenge is a 2021 analysis by the US trade publication Food Navigator. It put forward a hypothetical circumstance for cultured meat to represent 10 percent of worldwide meat supply by the end of the years. Its conclusion? That the industry would require to develop 4,000 facilities, each efficient in producing 10 kilotonnes of cultured meat every year. Were it to accomplish that, it would indicate developing more than one factory a day.


Main image: Eat Just.

” There still are a lot of difficulties,” confesses Tetrick. “Everything from how do you develop the cell line? What are the nutrients that the cell will consume? How do you figure out a way to make it in the stainless-steel vessel? How do you appropriately deal with regulatory authorities like those that we carried out in Singapore in order to make it most likely than not that one would get approval? They all continue to be challenges.”.

Its now on sale along with standard meat at the Madame Fan restaurant in Singapore. If you werent told, you would be not likely to tell that the chicken Caesar salad with kale, romaine, edible flowers and shaved radish utilized cultured meat.

Tetrick agrees. “We require bioreactors north of 100,000 litres to make 10s of millions of pounds of meat,” he says. “In order to get into vessels of that size, you need to design and engineer them from scratch because theres nobody I can call up and say, Hey, can I place an order for a 100,000-litre bioreactor?”.

It appears like a regular chicken breast, however this one was lab-grown. Image: Eat Just.

Seren Kell doesnt think the UK or Europe will have a mass market for cultured meat in the near future. She says that its most likely to appear in Australia, North America and China, which desires cultured meat to be part of its five-year farming plan.

The major obstacles for the industry are scale and cost. Back in 2013, when Prof Mark Post of Maastricht University produced the worlds first lab-made burger, it cost EUR250,000 (₤ 215,000) to make.

” Its not hard to grow animal cells in culture in laboratory conditions and Petri dishes, in extremely small beakers,” states Simon Kahan, CEO of Biocellion SPC, who leads the Cultivated Meat Modelling Consortium (CMMC), a group that assists business optimise bioprocessing strategies through computer system modelling. “Thats been provided for a long time.”.

Tetrick says the mission to end up being the worlds most taken in meat is set to be a “multi-decade, many numerous billions of dollars project.” Theyve made the egg. And the chicken. Now theyre hoping theyve got the golden goose.

Cultured meat is genuine animal meat, produced straight from animal cells. Great Meats chicken, for example, is 70 per cent cultured chicken cells and 30 per cent plant protein for added structure and flavour. Considering that then, Post has set up Mosa Meat, a cultured meat business based in the Netherlands. It put forward a hypothetical situation for cultured meat to account for 10 per cent of international meat supply by the end of the decade. That the industry would need to build 4,000 facilities, each capable of producing 10 kilotonnes of cultured meat each year.

MeaTech, an Israeli company, 3D printed a 4oz steak in 2021. Image: MeaTech.

Cultured meat is genuine animal meat, produced directly from animal cells. Great Meats chicken, for example, is 70 percent cultured chicken cells and 30 per cent plant protein for added structure and flavour. No animals are killed in making it.

This has actually never been done prior to. Its a moon-shot project.

Kell thinks that it might be possible to find less expensive alternatives that are just as reliable. She likewise believes there might be development around recycling cell-culture media and optimising cells to grow at greater densities. But as it stands, these innovations are either being trialled or purely speculative.

Regardless of all this, cultured meat is concerning market. Singapore was the very first to allow the stuff to be sold. Eat Just is now dealing with restaurants throughout the nation to put the lab-grown chicken on their menus. The meat will likewise be offered at local hawker stalls by the end of February 2022.

” Whats difficult is growing the cells in larger containers like beer brewing-sized containers,” says Kahan. “Thats required to get the economies of scale up, so that the total cost– the processing expense– is lowered.”.

” Were probably in a position right now where a great deal of the most interesting research is taking place in Europe,” states Kell. “But because of our regulatory landscape and the lack of government financial investment to see these technologies through to completion, it will likely be commercialised in other nations initially.”.

Over in Israel, Future Meat Technologies has become the very first firm to produce a chicken breast for less than $5 (₤ 3.60), and foodies have actually attempted their lab-grown meat at a “test dining establishment” near Tel Aviv..

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