The world's first lab-grown test tube burger, labeled by skeptics as "Frankenburger," has been unveiled and taste tested today. Made from "cultured beef" by Dr. Mark Post, a professor at Maastricht University, this £250,000 meat patty tastes "close to meat;" but lacks fat, according to food experts.
The 5-ounce burger was constructed from 20,000 protein strands, grown from cow stem cells, and removed from a deep freezer on Monday. Hanni Rutzler, an Austrian researcher, and Josh Schonwald, a Chicago-based food writer both volunteered to taste, both returning similar comments about what they ate. Simply put, it's close to an actual burger; but there are some peculiarities.
Ms Rutzler said it was "close to meat," but she was expecting the texture to be softer and it wasn't very juicy.
"I was expecting the texture to be more soft," Rutzler said, pointing out that the taste would have benefited from fat. "But there is quite a bit of flavor."
To construct this burger, muscle-repairing stem cells are taken from the shoulders of cows (painlessly) and placed in a serum to multiply and merge. Biologically, what has been created is exactly the same properties as a real burger; but the Frankenburger has some way to go before hitting the supermarket shelves. Post acknowledges that it would likely be "10-20 years" before we can pick up an artificial burger that's not Quorn.
With global population due to grow to 9.6 billion by 2050, our demand for meat will grow exponentially. Based upon current trends, our consumption reached 268 million tonnes in 2009, compared to just 70 million tonnes 50 years earlier. To tackle this, Dr. Post began working on this synthetic meat, as it would greatly reduce the footprint requirement.
A study from Oxford in 2011 showed that with synthetic meat processes in place, we would only require 1% of the land and 4% of the water currently consumed by livestock, greenhouse gases will be reduced by 96%, and 45% less energy would be used.
We will see how this evolves beyond possible ethical concerns, and the struggle of marketing such a product as this.
Source: Cultured Beef