A doctor in the Netherlands has put a lot of work into creating a hamburger constructed with pieces of beef muscle grown in a lab. The end product is a five-ounce piece of meat which may be cooked at an event in London as soon as this summer.
The small hamburger has been created by growing strips of muscle tissue from stem cells. The New York Times reports Dr. Mark Post, a Dutch scientist at Maastricht University, used 20,000 muscle strips to produce the five-ounce burger.
The meat, which Post himself says “tastes reasonably good,” is also extremely pricey. Research to create the one five-ounce piece of meat has been funded by a private donation of $325,000.
The meat is produced using a type of cell removed from a cow’s neck taken from a slaughterhouse. The New York Times says the medium used to grow the cells is fetal calf serum, but Post says a similar material of non-animal origin could serve as a replacement with more research.
Post has proved the concept will work, but he knows there are a number of obstacles he must overcome before the product could in groceries next to conventional meat products.
“I see the major hurdles, probably better than anybody else,” Post told the New York Times. “But you’ve got to have faith in technological advances, that they will be solved.”
Post says the process is expensive, but could become more efficient as the technology continues to improve.
Since muscle tissue from animals is needed for the stems cells used in the process, the artificial meat can never completely replace cattle herds, but Post admits he’d be happy to reduce the global herd a millionfold.
Closer to home, a company based in Columbia, Mo., is using a 3D bioprinter in hopes of developing cell-based products to replace beef and leather. The company, Modern Meadow, is funded by a $350,000 investment by PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel.