London – Scientists were set to unveil the world’s first lab-grown beef burger, serving it up fried to volunteers in London in what they hope is the start of a food revolution.
The 140 gram patty, which cost more than 250 000 euros (about R3.2 million) to produce, has been made using strands of meat grown from muscle cells taken from a living cow.
Mixed with salt, egg powder and breadcrumbs to improve the taste and coloured with red beetroot juice and saffron, researchers claim it will taste similar to a normal burger.
Professor Mark Post of Maastricht University, whose lab developed the meat, says it is safe and has the potential to replace normal meat in the diets of millions of people.
There are concerns that the growing demand for meat is putting unsustainable pressure on the planet, both through the food required for the animals and the methane gas they produce, which contributes to global warming.
“What we are going to attempt is important because I hope it will show cultured beef has the answers to major problems that the world faces,” Post said ahead of today’s event.
“Our burger is made from muscle cells taken from a cow. We haven’t altered them in any way. For it to succeed it has to look, feel and hopefully taste like the real thing.”
The team in the Netherlands took cells from organic cows and placed them in a nutrient solution to create muscle tissue. They then grew this into small strands of meat, 20 000 of which were required to make the burger.
In the world’s first public tasting today, the patty will be fried in a pan and served up to two volunteers.
Although it is very expensive, the costs of cultured beef are likely to fall as more is produced and the team claim it could be available in supermarkets within 10 to 20 years.
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