How is artificial meat made?
Also known as cultured or cell-based meat, artificial meat is grown from animal cells in a laboratory. Start-up companies have grown artificial beef, pork, chicken and even fish. However, none is commercially available yet.
There are different ways to grow artificial meat, but most use adult stem cells from a live animal. For beef, a tiny muscle sample is taken from a cow, under local anaesthesia. The muscle is chopped into smaller pieces, using enzymes to digest it and release the stem cells.
In a huge vat called a bioreactor, the stem cells are immersed in a broth containing salts, vitamins, sugars and proteins, as well as growth factors. The oxygen-rich, temperature-controlled environment allows cells to multiply dramatically. The stem cells then differentiate into muscle fibres that bunch together, aided by scaffolding material. The meat is ready for processing or cooking in a matter of weeks.
Producing a thick piece of steak is still some way off, with minced meat far easier to replicate. 3D printing is one possible option for creating a juicy steak layer by layer, but this technology is still in its infancy.
The first artificial beef burger (unveiled to great fanfare in 2013 and developed at a cost of 250,000) was reported to be rather dry and dense, consisting solely of muscle fibres.
A good meat replacement needs to mimic smell, texture and taste, which is no mean feat. In an animal, muscle comprises organised fibres, blood vessels, nerves, connective tissues and fat cells. Thousands of flavour molecules contribute to real meats rich taste. Its possible to add synthetic flavours to artificial meat, but balancing and distributing them is tricky.
Progress has been made since 2013 and a Dutch company called Meatable now claims to be able to reprogram stem cells collected from bovine umbilical cord blood, turning them into master cells that can differentiate into fat or muscle. This allows muscle and fat cells to grow together as they do in animals. In theory, cells from different species could be grown together to create completely new flavours.
Artificial meat is touted as being as safe or safer than the real thing, produced in a highly controlled environment.
It is highly unlikely to become contaminated with harmful bacteria such as E. coli because there are no digestive organs to worry about. With whole animals, theres always a risk of meat becoming contaminated with bacteria after slaughter.
Having said that, artificial meat producers do need to take extra care to keep everything sterile because the nutrient-rich environment in the bioreactors is a perfect breeding ground for bacteria.
Some people have raised concerns over the growth factors added to stem cells, which include hormones. These hormones are naturally present in animals as well as in real meat. However, overexposure can have adverse health effects in humans. This is why growth hormones have been banned in agriculture in the EU since 1981.
Artificial meat is packed with protein and newer versions also contain fat. The nutritional content can be controlled to a certain extent by adjusting fat levels and playing with the levels of saturated fatty acids and healthier polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Saturated fats can be replaced with other types of fats, such as omega-3s, found naturally in fish or flaxseed oil. Its also possible to add extra micronutrients such as vitamin B12 to artificial meats, as is routinely done to breads and breakfast cereals.
The fact remains that eating too much red meat is bad for our health, increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers. With its controlled fat levels, artificial meat may be slightly healthier, but it would still need to be eaten in moderation.
Plant-based meat alternatives may be the healthiest option, with similar protein levels and lower levels of saturated fat compared to conventional meat burgers.
The global food system is under huge pressure from climate change, a growing population and increasing demand for animal products. As such, investors have poured vast sums into artificial meat start-ups in recent years. One estimate by US consultancy firm Kearney suggests that 35 per cent of all meat consumed globally will be cell-based by 2040.
Artificial meat can be produced faster and more efficiently than traditional meat, requiring a tiny fraction of the land. But it faces competition from insect-derived products and plant-based imitation meats, which consumers are already buying in increasing numbers.
Livestock produce a big proportion of global greenhouse gas emissions. Large numbers of people switching to artificial meat, could lead to big cuts in these gases, particularly methane. But a study at Oxford University has suggested that the CO2 emissions from powering artificial meat production facilities could be more damaging over the next 1,000 years.
Emma is a science writer specialising in environment, food and toxicology.
To submit your questions email us at firstname.lastname@example.org (dont forget to include your name and location)
- World's First Umbilical Cord Blood Stem Cell Pool Banking - June 24th, 2021
- Cord Blood and Tissue Banking | New England Cord Blood Bank - June 24th, 2021
- List of FDA Approved Stem Cell Treatments - Cord For Life - June 24th, 2021
- Cord Blood Banking | UK Stem Cell Bank | Biovault Family - June 24th, 2021
- Umbilical Cord Blood Banking Canada & Stem Cells Storage ... - June 24th, 2021
- stem cells - SlideShare - June 24th, 2021
- Gamida Cell Announces Publication in Blood, the Journal of the American Society of Hematology, of the First Pivotal Trial to Evaluate a Cell Therapy... - June 24th, 2021
- Global Nerve Repair and Regeneration Devices Market to Reach $11. 8 Billion by 2026 - GlobeNewswire - June 24th, 2021
- Stem Cell Cryopreservation Equipments Market 2021 Global Trends, Share, Growth, Analysis, Opportunities and Forecast to 2027 KSU | The Sentinel... - June 24th, 2021
- Catalent to Acquire RheinCell Therapeutics, Strengthening a Path Towards Industrialization of Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell-based Therapies - WFMZ... - June 24th, 2021
- Global Cord Stem Cell Banking Market Status, Business Trends, Competitive Analysis, Growth Factors and Forecasts To 2028||Cryo-Cell International,... - June 20th, 2021
- Global $15.52 Bn Cell Isolation (Human Cells and Animal Cells) - GlobeNewswire - June 20th, 2021
- Stem Cells in the Treatment of Diabetes | Cryo-Cell - June 16th, 2021
- Uses & Importance of Umbilical Cord Stem Cells | NECBB - June 16th, 2021
- Cord blood stem cells: a review of potential neurological ... - June 16th, 2021
- Umbilical Cord Stem Cells Medical Society - June 16th, 2021
- Cord Blood Stem Cells Market Set to Grow with Massive CAGR by 2028. Major Players Advanced Cell Technology, California Stem Cell, Cytori... - June 16th, 2021
- Biopreservation Market Report Provides An In-Depth Insight Of Demand And Trends Forecast To 2027 The Manomet Current - The Manomet Current - June 14th, 2021
- What Are Stem Cells and Why Are They Important? - News & Features - June 13th, 2021
- Simone Anderson cleared by ASA over cord blood post but accused of deleting negative comments - New Zealand Herald - June 13th, 2021
- Stem Cell manufacturing Market Study including Growth Factors, New Top Players, Competitive Analysis by regions from 2020 to 2028 The Manomet Current... - June 13th, 2021
- Brave Nathaniel Nabena, 9, all smiles as he has life-saving procedure - thanks to you - The Mirror - June 9th, 2021
- Global Analysis of Cord Blood Stem Cells Market Size 2021-2026 By Industry Demand, Growth Share and Competitive Landscape Jumbo News - Jumbo News - June 9th, 2021
- MedShadow Foundation Reports on Two Decades of Research and Regulation of Stem Cell Therapy - PRUnderground - May 30th, 2021
- Biobanks Market Research Report Including SWOT Analysis, PESTELE Analysis, Drivers, Restraints, Global Industry Outlook and Key Players Analysis By... - May 26th, 2021
- Global Hematopoietic Stem Cells Transplantation Market 2021: Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Trends and Forecasts 2026 KSU | The Sentinel Newspaper -... - May 26th, 2021
- Biobanks Market Revenue, Size Industry Statistics, Share, Analysis and Global Research Report, 2020-2027 The Courier - The Courier - May 22nd, 2021
- AB-205 Shows Promise in Patients With Systemic Lymphoma Undergoing HDT-ASCT - Targeted Oncology - May 22nd, 2021
- Research on Cord Blood Stem Cells Market Key Data Points Necessary for Effective Strategies | Advanced Cell Technology, California Stem Cell, Cytori... - May 20th, 2021
- Global Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation (HSCT) Market is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of 6.9% by 2025 - Market Primes - May 20th, 2021
- Amazon in talks to buy MGM movie studio - The Information - Yahoo Finance UK - May 20th, 2021
- Stem Cell Banking Market Size, Revenue, Growth Opportunities, Competitive Analysis, Trends and Demand by 2026 The Manomet Current - The Manomet... - May 20th, 2021
- Swab To Save a Life event to be held at Berlin Boro Hall - nj.com - May 20th, 2021
- Caribou Biosciences Announces Appointment of Katy Rezvani, M.D., Ph.D. and Christopher Sturgeon, Ph.D. to its Scientific Advisory Board - Business... - May 20th, 2021
- Repeated infusion of mesenchymal stem cells maintain the condition to inhibit deteriorated motor function, leading to an extended lifespan in the... - May 10th, 2021
- Smart Immune Announces FDA Orphan Drug Status, IND Acceptance and Fast-Track Designation to Commence Phase 1/2 Clinical Trial of Proprietary... - May 10th, 2021
- Nathaniel's family have just three days to raise 150,000 for life-saving operation - Mirror Online - May 9th, 2021
- Global Stem Cell manufacturing Market with Covid 19 Analysis and Challenges On Upcoming Trends 2021-2028 The Courier - The Courier - May 9th, 2021
- Stem Cell Therapies Becoming a Common Treatment for Medical Diseases, Disorders and Traumas - Flagstaff Business News - May 9th, 2021
- Global Cord Blood Stem Cells Market by Type (Allogeneic Stem Cell, Autologous Stem Cell), By Application (Autoimmune Diseases, Immunodeficiencies,... - May 5th, 2021
- Our first child is due, and Im already in the clutches of the baby-industrial complex - The Guardian - May 5th, 2021
- Scientists identify small-molecule cocktail to improve stem cell use in research and disease treatments - National Institutes of Health - May 5th, 2021
- Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation (HSCT) Market Trend, Technology Innovations and Growth Prediction 2020-2025 - AlgosOnline - May 5th, 2021
- Stem Cell Therapy Market: Research Report By Scope, Size, Share, Drivers, Restraints, Key Players and Forecasts KSU | The Sentinel Newspaper - KSU |... - May 5th, 2021
- Celebrate Mother's Day With the Gift of Life-Saving Cord Blood Donation - GlobeNewswire - May 2nd, 2021
- Key Trends of Autologous Stem Cell Based Therapies Market 2021 Business Opportunities, Market Dynamics, Growth Size and Forecasts to 2026 - Clark... - May 2nd, 2021
- The Cell Therapy Bioprocessing Market To Get Re-Energized By The Global The Courier - The Courier - April 24th, 2021
- Research with fetal tissue from elective abortion called 'deeply offensive' - TheCatholicSpirit.com : TheCatholicSpirit.com - The Catholic Spirit - April 24th, 2021
- U.S. Rep. Greene one of just two House lawmakers opposing stem cell, bone marrow transplant bill - Chattanooga Times Free Press - April 18th, 2021
- Blood Donors needed, as local blood supply faces 'Perfect Storm' - The B-Town (Burien) Blog - The B-Town Blog - April 16th, 2021
- Stem cell treatment needed to fight the good fight - Victoria Lookout - April 16th, 2021
- ThermoGenesis : The History of Cell and Gene Therapy - Marketscreener.com - April 14th, 2021
- Cord Blood Stem Cells Market 2021 Overview, Opportunities, In-Depth Analysis by 2027 : Becton, Dickinson and Company, DomaniCell, LLC, Future Health... - April 14th, 2021
- Umbilical Cord Blood (UCB) Stem Cell Market Booming CAGR +10% by 2028|| Osiris Therapeutics, Athersys, Opexa Therapeutics, NeoStem, Mesoblast Limited,... - April 14th, 2021
- Cord Blood Stem Cells Market 2021 Is Rapidly Increasing Worldwide in Near Future | Top Companies Analysis- Advanced Cell Technology, California Stem... - April 14th, 2021
- Cidara Therapeutics to Present at the 20th Annual Needham Virtual Healthcare Conference - April 8th, 2021
- Vincerx Pharma To Host Key Opinion Leader Webinar on Bioconjugation and CDK9 Inhibitors for the Treatment of Hematologic and Solid Tumors - April 8th, 2021
- Cabaletta Bio to Present at the 20th Annual Needham Healthcare Conference - April 8th, 2021
- Arch Oncology Appoints Laurence Blumberg, M.D. President and CEO - April 8th, 2021
- X4 Pharmaceuticals to Present at the 20th Annual Needham Virtual Healthcare Conference - April 8th, 2021
- Immutep Announces European Patent Grant For LAG525 Antibody In Combination Therapy - April 8th, 2021
- Cannalogue Expands Compassionate Care Program to Provide Lowest Medical Cannabis Price in Canada - April 8th, 2021
- Allena Pharmaceuticals Appoints Mark J. Fitzpatrick to its Board of Directors - April 8th, 2021
- Fortress Biotech to Participate in the 20th Annual Needham Virtual Healthcare Conference - April 8th, 2021
- Chinook Therapeutics Announces First Patient Dosed in Phase 2 AFFINITY Basket Study of Atrasentan in Proteinuric Glomerular Diseases - April 8th, 2021
- Rhythm Pharmaceuticals to Present at 20th Annual Needham Virtual Healthcare Conference - April 8th, 2021
- NKGen Biotech Announces Appointment of Philip Moody as Chief Financial Officer - April 8th, 2021
- CorMedix Inc. to Present at the 20th Annual Needham Virtual Healthcare Conference - April 8th, 2021
- Innovation Pharma Announces Brilacidin Abstract Accepted for Oral Presentation at the American Society for Virology’s Annual Meeting - April 8th, 2021
- AIM ImmunoTech Announces Positive Safety Data in First Cohort of Phase 1 Clinical Study Investigating Intranasal Administration of Ampligen as a... - April 8th, 2021
- Cullinan Oncology, Inc. to Participate in the 20th Annual Needham Virtual Healthcare Conference - April 8th, 2021
- Cord Blood Stem Cells Market 2021 Is Booming Across the Globe by Share, Size, Growth, Segments and Forecast to 2027 | Top Players Analysis- Advanced... - April 6th, 2021
- Cord Blood Stem Cells Market 2021 Will Reflect Significant Growth in Future with Size, Share, Growth, and Key Companies Analysis- Advanced Cell... - April 6th, 2021
- 25 Children with Autism Treated with Cord Blood: How Efficient is the Treatment? - Science Times - April 6th, 2021
- Latest Trending Report on Cord Blood Stem Cells Market by Advanced Cell Technology, California Stem Cell, Cytori Therapeutics, Mesoblast Limited,... - April 3rd, 2021
- The Governments Watchful Eye on Fraud Stemming from Stem Cell Therapy - JD Supra - April 3rd, 2021
- Hematopoietic Stem Cells Transplantation Market 2021 Analysis, Growth By Top Companies with Forecast 2025 : CBR Systems, ThermoGenesis, China Cord... - April 1st, 2021
- Why Hematopoietic Stem Cells Transplantation Market will be in Trend in Coming Period? Top Key Players- CBR Systems, China Cord Blood Corporation,... - April 1st, 2021
- Global Cell Isolation Market Sales Scenario of to Stay Positive Through 2026 KSU | The Sentinel Newspaper - KSU | The Sentinel Newspaper - April 1st, 2021
- Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation (HSCT) Market 2021 Is Booming Across the Globe by Share, Size, Growth, Segments and Forecast to 2027 | Top... - April 1st, 2021