New tech can pro­duce cul­tured meat

Boston Herald - - THE EDGE -

Some re­fer to it as “cul­tured” or “cell-based” meat. Oth­ers call it “fake” meat. What is it? It’s a new tech­nol­ogy to grow meat in the lab­o­ra­tory and it may show up in the meat sec­tions of our su­per­mar­kets some­day.

Cul­tured meat is meat pro­duced when cells from an­i­mals are “cul­tured” or grown un­der lab­o­ra­tory con­di­tions. Not to be con­fused with plant-based meat sub­sti­tutes made from veg­eta­bles pro­teins, cell-based meat is grown from ac­tual an­i­mal cells. So it is an an­i­mal prod­uct, not a vege­tar­ian op­tion.

Why do we do need an­other method to pro­duce meat? Some say it’s to keep up with the grow­ing de­mand for qual­ity protein sources in our ex­pand­ing world. Oth­ers say it is an al­ter­nate way to pro­duce meat for hu­man con­sump­tion.

Is cell-cul­tured meat the same as reg­u­lar meat? De­pends on who you talk to. Mus­cle fibers pro­duced in the lab­o­ra­tory are the same as that found in a steak, say lead­ing re­searchers in this tech­nol­ogy from Maas­tricht Uni­ver­sity in the Nether­lands. Yet they also say that they need to tweak the pro­ce­dure to get the same nu­tri­ent con­tent, such as iron, that is found in red meat.

Some groups have pe­ti­tioned the U.S. Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion to bet­ter de­fine the term “meat” so we know if we are buy­ing the tra­di­tion­ally pro­duced type or the cul­tured va­ri­ety.

This all may take a few years. Reg­u­la­tory is­sues and cost (the first lab-grown ham­burger patty cost a mere $330,000 to pro­duce) could de­lay the in­tro­duc­tion of cul­tured meat into our food sup­ply for a while.

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