The world’s first test-tube burgers are ready to go to market!
They look, feel and taste, like a regular quarter-pounder – its creator Mark Post told the world’s premier science conference. And, WWN has learned, they will be on the shelves of grocery stores in the U.S. by mid-March.
The ‘ethical meat’ will would be kinder to the environment than the real thing, reduce animal suffering and help feed the world’s burgeoning population. The new meat will be an ethical alternative to beef. PETA is a big supporter of test tube hamburgers – as long as cows are not hurt when their stems cells are extracted.
Another interesting fact about the test tube burgers is that they are made from test tube cows!
Professor Post says that “everyone” will want to eat the burgers, which, despite their vast initial cost could eventually be priced to match that of real meat.
However, it remains to be seen whether a public that likes to think of its chops, steaks and sausages as having their roots in nature will take to meat made in test-tubes.
Here’s Heston Blumenthal, the first test tube hamburger chef. He was a test tube baby.
A Maastricht Univeristy professor Spent the last six years trying to turn stem cells – ‘master cells’ with the power to turn into all other cell types – into meat.
The first attempts involved mouse burgers. He then tried to grow pork in a dish, producing strips with the rubbery texture of squid or scallops, before settling on beef.
A four-step technique is used to turn stem cells from animal flesh into a burger.
First, the stem cells are stripped from the cow’s muscle.
Next, they are incubated in a nutrient broth until they multiply many times over, creating a sticky tissue with the consistency of an undercooked egg.
This ‘wasted muscle’ is then bulked up through the laboratory equivalent of exercise – it is anchored to Velcro and stretched.
Finally, 3,000 strips of the lab-grown meat are minced, and, along with 200 pieces of lab-grown animal fat, formed into a burger.
The process is still lengthy, as well as expensive, but optimised, it could take just six weeks from stem cell to supermarket shelf.
Professor Post told the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s annual conference in Vancouver that he has so far made a strip of beef measuring 3cm by 1.5cm by 0.5cm.
This beef is ‘pinkish to yellow’ in colour – but he is confident of having a full-sized and properly coloured burger by the autumn.
“Seeing and tasting is believing.” Sausages and other processed meat products could swiftly follow, although pork chops and sirloin steaks will be much more problematic.
Other possibilities include synthetic versions of the meat from are animals such as pandas and tigers.
Meats could also be made extra-healthy by boosting their content of ‘good’ fats.
Far fewer animals would have to be kept to satisfy the appetite for meat.
The stem cell’s extraordinary ability to grow and multiply means that a cells taken from a single cow could produce a million times more burgers than if the animal was slaughtered for meat.
Researchers say they realiZe that many will find the idea of eating lab-grown meat unnatural – but point out that the livestock eaten at the moment is often kept in cramped conditions and dosed with chemicals or antibiotics.
However, the fact that the source material comes from animals who will likely have slaughtered means that not all vegetarians will be happy with the product.
Making test tube burgers could reduce the number of live animals used for food substantially and that would reduce greenhouse gas production.
‘There might be human health benefits because the health and safety issues associated with meat could be much better controlled.
“But are people going to eat it? People’s tastes have changed a lot over the years and eventually this may be something that is widely taken up.’