Lab Grown Foie Gras Claims To ‘Take Away Ethical Concerns’
The world’s first lab-made foie gras has been created using duck stem cells, and it aims to make the food more ethical.
Foie gras is typically made by fattening a duck or goose through the process of gavage. This means that the animal is force-fed with a tube. As a result, the liver-based dish has raised plenty of ethical concerns regarding animal cruelty.
Now, however, scientists have developed a cruelty-free alternative to the dish by extracting cells from a single fertilised egg. The scientists then grow the cells using the same proteins, amino acids and lipids the egg would normally have.
Nicolas Morin-Forest, CEO and founder of the French startup Gourmey, explained to Sifted how they managed to make an ethical alternative to the foie gras:
In the egg you have stem cells and they have the capacity to divide and multiply indefinitely, as long as they have a good environment.
We isolate them from the egg and give them a controlled environment that replicates the egg’s environment.
Once cells are fed the nutrients they would get through an egg, ‘you adjust the nutrients to trigger the cell type that you want’. Morin-Forest went on to explain, ‘So if you want liver cells, or muscle cells, you adjust the inputs and the cells react to that. We then harvest muscle cells, fat cells, or liver cells and craft our products.’
While many will be pleased an ethical alternative has been developed, some may be concerned about the taste. However, so far it seems to be passing expert taste tests. An unnamed Michelin-star chef from Aquitaine, the region famed for foie gras, said he couldn’t tell the difference, and said he would cook with the ethically-made alternative.
Gourmey is part of a growing trend that sees companies focus on a cell-based alternative to meat dishes. It is hoped these alternatives will make our diets more sustainable. Foie gras was a natural starting point for the company as the practice is banned in places like New York and California.
It is hoped the company can now expand its techniques to other dishes that are farmed. Morin-Forest said ‘foie gras is just the first application of our current know-how’, adding that ‘with the same starting cells, we can create any type of poultry meat product’.
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