HomeLatest NewsSo, Lab-Grown Meat Is Officially a Thing Now

See, we joked about this before, but when it shows up on my NBC News feed… tears need to be shed:

After years of research and weeks of buildup, taste testers on Monday finally bit into a burger created from stem cells in a culture dish rather than meat from a farm or a store.

credit: Toby Melville, Reuters

credit: Toby Melville, Reuters

The burger was cooked in front of reporters and taste-tested by Chicago-based author and food writer Josh Schonwald and Austrian food researcher Hanni Rutzler.

Although they struggled to decide whether they liked the taste, both were pleasantly surprised at the texture and juicyness given the absence of natural fats.

“It wasn’t unpleasant,” said Schonwald.

“There is quite some intense flavor,” Rutzler said, although she added that it needed seasoning. “The look was quite similar to meat. It has quite a bite.”

She added: “The surface of the meat was crunchy – surprisingly. The taste itself was as juicy as meat can be, but different. It tastes like meat, not a meat-substitute like soya or whatever.”

Monday’s high-profile tasting at West London’s Riverside Studios, broadcast online via streaming video, served as the public unveiling for a strain of “cultured beef” developed by University of Maastricht physiologist Mark Post. He declared the taste test a success.

“I’m very excited. It took a long time to get this far,” said Post. “I think this is a very good start. I’m very happy with it.”

[…]

The tasters said the burger was edible and had the texture of other meat but said more work was required to improve the taste.

“There is a leanness to it,” food writer Schonwald said. “The absence of fat is what makes it taste different.”

“I would say it is somewhere on the spectrum between a Boca Burger [soy burger brand] and McDonald’s,” he added. “The absence of fat makes a big difference. It has the texture, which I was not expecting. It was like an animal-protein cake.”

Post said he would not let a reporter or the chef the chance to taste a piece of the burger, saying there was not enough to go around.

He said technology was making it easier to identify which naturally-occurring ingredients could be used to improve the taste.

The burger was cooked by chef Richard McGeown.

“It cooked like any other burger I’ve cooked before, it seems to give off a pleasant aroma,” McGeown said. “It looks incredibly appetizing. I managed not to burn it.”

[source]

You know, I get it. I can respect what this is intending to do. The article goes on to explain more about food insecurity, and how finding a way to feed the world’s growing population with minimally adverse effects on the environment is ideal.

I totally get it.

None of this changes the fact that I have questions:

1) Will we receive notice when this starts being intermingled with the beef people are already buying? Will we pass regulations requiring manufacturers to affix a special label to products that contain the “cultured beef?” (Also: gotta laugh a little bit at “cultured beef.” Could you imagine the marketing spin? “Well-aged, cultured ground beef burger?”)

2) How does this beef compare to beef cut from an actual, live animal? How do the nutritional profiles compare? And, even as I ask that question, I have to acknowledge a very real reality: nutritional science is limited in what it knows about the biomechanics of nutrition – and, to that end, we don’t know what we don’t know. I’m all for exploration, but how long are we going to test this potential protein source out before we allow it to be released into the public?

3) I think it should also be noted that a lot of the reason that there’s a “beef crisis” is because of the overconsumption of beef by the U.S. If the market needs to be flooded with artificial beef, what is that beef going to be used for? It’s going to become the beef filler in processed food, right? What is this going to do for the food economy? Your random meat patty in your $1 TV dinners will contain this stuff, and the people who can afford to overconsume beef will continue to overconsume, but will up their quality so as to avoid this stuff… leaving this “cultured beef” relegated to people who couldn’t afford actual meat.

I’m not wearing a tinfoil hat, here – I’m just trying to understand what this could potentially do to the industry and economics as a whole.

More importantly, if there are nutritional concerns with the product, and it becomes “the beef of the poor,” does it wind up doing the same thing that processed food is doing, but at an exaggerated rate? Because, I’ve got to admit, I’d sooner give up meat altogether than eat this. I don’t even eat beef, and this has me concerned.

Why can’t we just encourage people to eat less? Oh, wait. Never mind.

What do you think? Am I off base, here? Would you welcome “cultured beef” into your home?

By | 2017-06-10T11:29:48+00:00 September 30th, 2013|Latest News|21 Comments

About the Author:

The proud leader of the #bgg2wlarmy, Erika Nicole Kendall writes health, fitness, nutrition, body image and beauty, and more here at #bgg2wl. After losing over 150lbs, Kendall became a personal trainer certified in fitness nutrition, women's fitness, and weight loss from the National Academy of Sports Medicine, and crtified in sports nutrition by Precision Nutrition. She now lives in New York with her husband and children, and is working on her 6th and 7th certifications because lol why not.

21 Comments

  1. Kami August 6, 2013 at 12:51 PM - Reply

    Wow i though this was a joke. This is nasty. What if this artificial meat causes more illnesses and is it going to labeled in the market. After reading this I am glad I do not eat any animal flesh. I am concerned about people who end up consuming this mess. Everytime I read stories like this It makes me want to stay vegetarian/ vegan minus the soy products. No I would never buy this for anybody.

    • Jilly August 6, 2013 at 6:45 PM - Reply

      Sorry, but it’s worse for vegetarians (heck, all of us) because even if you’re not eating lab grown meat, you’re still eating genetically modified organisms… more than 90 percent of soy is GMO, along with corn in the U.S. Even if you veggies are “organic” they’ve been polluted in some way by GMO BT toxin, so, unless you grow your own stuff, in a greenhouse, from non GMO seeds, you’re in the same boat as the rest of us.

  2. Alana August 6, 2013 at 1:03 PM - Reply

    I don’t trust any “food” manufactured in this way–as you say, the science behind nutrition isn’t adequate to inform us whether this is a beneficial product or not. I am afraid it will just turn into another fiasco a la margarine.

    • Michelle H August 6, 2013 at 6:47 PM - Reply

      Anyone remember the movie “Soylent Green?” No thanks. I will raise and or hunt for my own meat or become a vegetarian ty.

      • Erika Nicole Kendall August 8, 2013 at 10:23 AM - Reply

        Tried REALLY hard to not make a “Soylent Green are PEOPLE!” reference here, but…..

  3. Ericka August 6, 2013 at 1:03 PM - Reply

    i scared…

  4. Jeri Shermaine August 6, 2013 at 1:11 PM - Reply

    No I would not invite this into my home. This is absolutely REVOLTING to me. I can’t quite put my finger on why but…this makes my skin crawl. ergggh!!

  5. Mishala August 6, 2013 at 1:15 PM - Reply

    Nope, I’m with you. They have good intentions, and should be applauded for that. But I have the same concerns. Lean beef is great, but what about nutrition? I have this awful imagine of them adding powder from a protein shake and grinding up a daily vitamin into the mix. I imagine there are people that won’t really care, and they’ll eat whatever is available and on sale, but this really have me thinking I need to push my family away from meat. Or move to an uninhabited island and grow our own produce and eat nothing but tropical fish.

  6. Erika August 6, 2013 at 1:26 PM - Reply

    “Would you welcome “cultured beef” into your home?”

    Erika, would they even give us a choice? They don’t even want to tell us what foods are GMO or non-GMO. So why would they label meats: animal-based or non animal-based? It’s just a another chemical to push on the public and justify it because it would probably cost lower than actual animal products.

    #sosad

  7. Francesca August 6, 2013 at 1:44 PM - Reply

    Initially, when I heard this yesterday, I was disturbed by the fact that $330,000 was spent to create this play doh pattie. Then (and I had my tin foil hat on thank you, lol), I started imagining the various class action lawsuits by people who developed cancer or some other malady after consuming this mess. I’m very much a creature of habit, and tend to stick to what I know. Especially where it concerns anything put into my body. It typically takes a decade or more of public consumption for a products ugly side (that the manufacturer was probably aware of, but chanced it because the profits outweighed the risks) to surface…….in my Sommore voice “here come the muthaf***in’ side effects!” No thank you, I’ll continue to enjoy my turkey burgers; and even they get the ocassional side-eye, lol.

  8. JoAnna August 6, 2013 at 1:46 PM - Reply

    I see this as a natural progression of science vs. nature. So many people are upset about the inhumane treatment of our food animals, yet still want their cheapo burgers. This allows them to eat their burgers and feel good that no cow was kept in filth all its life, then brutally killed to be ground up into 1/4 pound patties. These are probably the same folk that only want boneless skinless chicken, boneless salmon fillets, and other easy meat. It’s something to sink their teeth into and enjoy without working around a bone(s) or conscience. Looks like I’m going to be buying animal parts with bones and skin included from now on… Just sayin’

  9. Charlotte August 6, 2013 at 2:05 PM - Reply

    And….is it vegetarian?

    • Erika Nicole Kendall August 6, 2013 at 2:10 PM - Reply

      I’m seeing reports that it comes from the cord blood of unborn calves, so my guess would be no.

      • Allie August 6, 2013 at 5:53 PM - Reply

        Erika, I read your reply to Charlotte’s question really quickly and thought you said the meat comes from the blood of unborn unicorns! Yeesh, don’t ask – long week, and it’s only Tuesday. 🙂

        I just cannot wrap my head around the concept of lab-grown meat. As a vegan, I appreciate the intention behind finding ways to feed the burgeoning world population while reducing the environmental impact of raising food animals. But making fake meat as a solution seems so crazy, when there’s such a bounty of inexpensive plant-based proteins already available.

      • larenee10 August 6, 2013 at 8:59 PM - Reply

        Eeeew, that made it worse. The cow your burger was made from was never born. Yuck.

  10. HD August 6, 2013 at 4:29 PM - Reply

    This is so gross. I remember when the pink slime story came out I was glad that I had already given up beef years ago. Thanks to you, Erika, this part of the article stood out to me:

    He said technology was making it easier to identify which naturally-occurring ingredients could be used to improve the taste.

    So basically he’s acknowledging that they plan to doctor it up and use chemicals and lab-made flavors to distract people from the texture and cover the taste. All so people can keep eating beef-ish meat.

  11. Lisa August 6, 2013 at 9:15 PM - Reply

    I’m sorry but that burger didn’t look appetizing! I don’t trust any food being manufactured in a lab. No no no…smh

  12. MandiFran August 7, 2013 at 3:04 PM - Reply

    Additionally, the meat was grown in a medium containing antibiotics. This is a pretty standard tissue culture procedure and you will get contamination in lab cultures just like you get bacterial contamination in the food supply. Sounds terrible to me.

  13. T Buchanon August 8, 2013 at 12:51 AM - Reply

    All I can hear is that Katt Williams bit: “Go ahead, feed ya baby the retarded ass cloned cow meat!”

  14. Elle October 2, 2013 at 12:22 PM - Reply

    I mean, we already have “tasty” factory farmed beef of the lowest quality being sold at almost all grocery stores. What’s the difference here? This is just the next step.

    We have turned so much of our foods into food-like product. Factory farmed meats, GMO vegetables and fruits. This is just the next step.

    This is just scary because I know how my friends and family eats. I’m the one that’s always very conscious at restaurants and what I buy for myself to eat (Whole Foods junkie). But my friends just want to get the cheapest food like steaks on sale for $2 a piece at the local store. We know that’s not grass fed beef! And what did that cow eat to make the meat so cheap. What’s happening to the food industry is so scary. Chicken nuggets with 20 plus ingredients – smh.

    I just know I have to keep making money in order to buy my fresh ingredients, meat that hasn’t been factory farmed and do my research before I buy anything.

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