The Emergence of Cultured Meat in Food Tech
Cultured meat, also known as lab-grown meat, is a relatively new development in the food technology industry. It is made by taking small samples of animal cells, called myoblasts, and growing them in a laboratory using a process called tissue engineering. This process allows for the production of meat without the need to raise and slaughter animals, which can significantly reduce the environmental and ethical concerns associated with traditional meat production.
The concept of cultured meat was first proposed more than a century ago, but it wasn't until recent advances in tissue engineering and cell culture techniques that it became a realistic possibility. Companies like Upside Foods (formerly Memphis Meats) and JUST in the US or Believer Meat and Aleph Farms from Israel, are at the forefront of this technology. They are working to develop cultured meat that is safe, nutritious, delicious and most importantly price-competitive with conventional meat.
One of the most important advantages of cultured meat is that it can be produced much more efficiently than traditional meat. Cultured meat requires significantly less land and water to produce, and generates fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, because there is no need to raise and slaughter animals, cultured meat can be produced without the ethical concerns associated with traditional meat production.
Another potential advantage of cultured meat is its ability to be customized to meet specific dietary needs. For example, it's possible to produce meat that is lower in saturated fat or cholesterol, or to add specific nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids. Additionally, by using the same techniques used to produce cultured meat, it's also possible to produce other animal products such as milk, egg white and fish.
Current issues with cultured meat
One of the main issues with cultured meat is the cost. Currently, the production of lab-grown meat is much more expensive than traditional meat production. This is due in part to the high cost of the growth medium, which contains things such as Fetal bovine serum, as well as the cost of the equipment and facilities required for the production of cultured meat.
Another problem with cultured meat is the lack of scalability. Cultured meat is currently produced in small quantities and it would be difficult to scale up to meet the demands of a global population. The process of scaling up will require major breakthroughs in technology and infrastructure to make it viable.
A third issue is that there are still many unknowns when it comes to the safety and regulation of lab-grown meat. The safety of lab-grown meat must be rigorously tested and established before it can be widely consumed, and there is currently a lack of regulation regarding the labelling and sale of these products.
Lastly, cultured meat still lacks the taste and texture that is similar to that of traditionally produced meat which is a challenge for some people to accept. It takes a lot of work to replicate the taste and texture of traditional meat, which is something that has not been fully accomplished yet, but scientists and researchers are working on this.
What is FBS?
Fetal bovine serum (FBS) is a component that is commonly used in the growth medium of cultured cells, particularly in the field of tissue culture and cell biology. FBS is collected from the blood of unborn calves and is a rich source of growth factors, hormones, and other factors that are essential for the growth and survival of a wide variety of cell types. These cells need the nutrients provided by the FBS to grow, multiply and differentiate.
In the context of cultured meat, FBS is used as a supplement in the growth media of the cells that are used to grow meat in a lab, it provide necessary nutrient and growth factors for the cells to grow and differentiate in the laboratory.
The many names of Cultured Meat
Cultured meat has various names and nomenclature, some of the names used to refer to this type of meat include:
- Cultured meat
- Cultivated meat
- Clean meat
- In-vitro meat
- Slaughter-free meat
- Shmeat (synthetic meat)
And of course, how not -
Each of these names emphasizes a different aspect of this technology, such as its environmental impact, its production process, its safety, or its novelty. As the technology and industry advance, it is possible that more names or terms will emerge or become more popular.
While the technology is still in its early stages of development, and still has significant challenges that need to be overcome before it can become a viable alternative, cultured meat is seen as a promising solution to meet the growing demand for meat while addressing some of the negative impact of traditional meat production. It is expected that as the technology advances and costs decrease, the market for cultured meat will continue to grow.