No-Kill, Lab-Grown Meat To Go On Sale For First Time
Meat produced in a lab, without the slaughter of an animal, has been approved for sale for the first time.
With Singapore’s regulatory authority passing its safety review, the latest development with cultured meat, or ‘clean meat’, has been hailed as a ‘breakthrough for the global food industry’.
The ‘chicken bites’ are produced by US-based startup Eat Just and reportedly hold the same nutritional value as normal meat. This comes as demand for alternative meat options continues to surge, especially with the rise of plant-based options in shops such as Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods.
However, Eat Just’s meat is made from animal muscle cells grown in a 1,200-litre bioreactor, later combined with plant-based ingredients. Israel’s Future Meat Technologies, Memphis Meats and Shiok Meats are also working on similar products.
In order to start the process, cells can be taken from biopsies of live animals, therefore no animals need to be killed for the product. Foetal bovine serume, extracted from blood, is also used as a growth medium, albeit it’s mostly removed prior to consumption and a plant-based serum will be used next time.
As per The Guardian, Josh Tetrick of Eat Just said:
I think the approval is one of the most significant milestones in the food industry in the last handful of decades. It’s an open door and it’s up to us and other companies to take that opportunity. My hope is this leads to a world in the next handful of years where the majority of meat doesn’t require killing a single animal or tearing down a single tree.
He added, ‘Is it different? For sure. Our hope is through transparent communication with consumers, what this is and how it compares to conventional meat, we’re able to win. But it’s not a guarantee.’
There are challenges to overcome; namely, acquiring regulatory approval in other countries and the difficulties of expanding production. ‘If we want to serve the entire country of Singapore, and eventually bring it to elsewhere in the world, we need to move to 10,000-litre or 50,000-litre-plus bioreactors,’ Tetrick explained.
There’s also the cost factor. At one point, as per BBC News, lab-grown chicken nuggets were proposed to cost $50 each. The price is set to decrease, but Bruce Friedrich, of the nonprofit Good Food Institute in the US, said cultivated meat was unlikely to become the mainstream option until it matched the low cost of standard meat.
However, he added, ‘The [Eat Just approval] is a very big deal for the future of meat production globally. A new space race for the future of food is under way.’
Around 130 million chickens are killed every day for meat consumption, as well as four million pigs. We’re far outnumbered by livestock; in terms of mammals on Earth, we make up around 36%, while 60% are livestock and 4% are wild.
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