The first lab-grown burger was cooked and eaten at a live event in London earlier this week, in what is a major step forward towards making food grown from stem cells a sustainable solution to the world’s growing demand for food.
Volunteers who tasted it said it is remarkably similar to real meat, only that it is slightly less juicy.
The burger was made of 20,000 strands of muscle grown from a cow’s cells. It took three months to grow, under the supervision of Maastricht University’s lead researcher Mark Post.
Various ingredients were added to the stem cell burger to make it taste and look like regular beef: breadcrumbs, egg powder, saffron and red beet juice. The cultured beef was fried by chef Richard McGeown and tasted by two food critics.
While McGeown remarked that the lab-grown burger was a bit paler than traditional ones, the food critics underlined that the burger tastes and feels very close to meat, only that it is less juicy and misses the fat.
Post explained that his research into developing the first lab-grown burger took four years and cost about $330,000, received through an anonymous donation which was later revealed to have been made by Google co-founder Sergey Brin.
With enough funding, cultured meat may realistically become available for widespread consumption in 10 to 20 years, Post added. The next step for his team will be to add fat to the stem cell burger and make it taste closer to the real thing.
Developers and advocates of stem cell meat emphasize that although most people would be reluctant to try food grown in a laboratory, the technology can solve a wide range of environmental, health and animal welfare problems associated with livestock farming. Lab-grown food can also become a viable solution to a looming food crisis, as meat consumption is expected to rise over 70% by 2050, according to the United Nations.
What do you think of stem cell food project? Would you try a lab-grown burger?
[Image via Extremetech]