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Lab-Grown Burger Taste Test

The world’s first burger grown in a petri dish was cooked and served up in a public taste test.

By | August 6, 2013

DAVID PARRY, ASSOCIATED PRESSIn a demonstration of the possible future of food, three people tasted the first lab-grown burger in London on Monday (August 5), including its creator Mark Post, a vascular biologist at the University of Maastricht. Post spent 2 years making the single 5-ounce cultured beef patty as a $325,000 pilot test—funded by Google co-founder Sergey Brin—for producing a high-quality protein source that he said would promote animal welfare, curb global food shortages, and combat climate change.

“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,” said Post in a statement, adding that he expects commercial production of the lab-grown meat could begin in 10 to 20 years.

The in vitro burger was derived from stem cells taken from cow shoulder muscle. The cells were cultured in Petri dishes where they were bathed in a nutrient solution to encourage differentiation into muscles cells, which then formed small strands of muscle fibers. Post created the patty by knitting together around 20,000 such strips. The meat was mixed with egg powder, breadcrumbs, and salt, then pan-fried with butter and served on a bun with lettuce and tomato to Post, Chicago-based food writer Josh Schonwald, and Austrian food scientist Hanni Rutzler.

Schonwald told The New York Times that “the bite feels like a conventional hamburger,” but that the meat tasted “like an animal-protein cake.”

Sandra Stringer, a microbiologist at the Institute of Food Research, was more clinical in her appraisal of the lab-grown meat. “We can see no reasons why this product would be less safe than conventional meat,” Stringer told The Telegraph. “It is likely that it will be produced in sterile conditions, and so could be much less prone to microbial contamination.”

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Avatar of: PastToTheFuture

PastToTheFuture

Posts: 29

August 6, 2013

Why use beef? I would have expected some testing to see what cloned best. If you asked a Sumerian, they might have suggested more of a delicacy such as Peacock tongue. I might have suggested abalone to at least test as it's the closest an animal comes to being a plant.

... Point is, there are a lot of possibilities and some are going to work/taste better than others.

Avatar of: Paul Stein

Paul Stein

Posts: 121

August 6, 2013

This whole thing is so stupid on so many levels.  1) I can't see how using "egg powder" and "butter" is in any way going to "promote animal welfare".  2) I can't see how a cost of a million dollars per pound is going to "curb global food shortages".  There would have to be a reduction in costs by over five orders of magnitude to make the entire process cost effective.  Has any production process in the history of the world ever done that?  3) How much materials and energy did the laboratory use, and how much greenhouse gases did the laboratory produce over two years to make just 5 ounces of material?  On a per-ounce basis, I have a feeling that current food production technology beats both by a light year.

I think that the meat tasted like regret.

Avatar of: FMF

FMF

Posts: 1

August 7, 2013

Can it be that someone wants to be famous and rich? For me, the whole thing sounds like the story of the Sorcerer's Apprentice. It always amazes me that rational people do not think rationally. Mr. Post, have you ever seriously thought about what happens when you feed this system "world" with art hamburgers? Try it even if it's hard! Do not be afraid of the consequences!

Sincerely yours

Avatar of: FJScientist

FJScientist

Posts: 24

August 8, 2013

My goodness. There's some non-visionary comments here.

 

This was an attempt to see if it's even possible to do before one embarks on figuring out ways to accomplish it cost-effectively and in a way pleasing to the palate. All who participated in this (the funder and the researchers) knew from the ouset that, if this were ever to become a realistic commodity, there would be a lot to do after this initial foray. Next step requirements include culturing the cells in inexpensive, defined media; trying different sources plant or animal to achieve an acceptable product; scaling up production to make the process inexpensive or at least competitive.

 

This is how all leaps begin.The vast majority of them end at this point. We've spent tens of billions to date on fusion reactors. Why? Because that is what it costs in order to develop something that may be worthwhile. We suspect that fusion will be but, given the limited success to date, we still don't really know do we.

 

Of course, you can't spend billions on every pipedream. Those, like Mr Brin, will be part of making the assessment in this case about whether the long-term possibilities, not proven until someone tries, are worth putting the resources into defining whether this could ever become a commercially viable product. If successful after putting in a lot more resources, it ends world hunger and this would rank amongst the most inspired $325,000 ever spent. If it doesn't, this goes down as one of the long lists of 'nice try'. Do not deride the tries--true derision is held for those who never attempt anything in the first place. I say kudos for the try.

 

 

Avatar of: Lesley Weston

Lesley Weston

Posts: 3

August 8, 2013

I can't find any information on how they got around Hayflick's limit. Sure, they used satellite cells, but how did they stop those diferentiating in culture until they had enough to start an actual muscle culture and grow it up until the limit was reached? For frankenbeef (or Chicken Little or whatever) to be a practical source of meat, it must be cheap and easy to make enormous quantities, which requires enormous numbers of "painless biopsies" (has nobody else seen that Torchwood episode?) unless you can prevent differentiation until you're ready for it. So you might as well just kill enough animals to supply the demand in the first place.

If they have worked out some way to get around the problems, why haven't they published before going public? Perhaps they don't know about the cold-fusion thing?

Avatar of: Havoc777

Havoc777

Posts: 1

August 12, 2013

No issues with lab grown meat (given the planet's overcrowding/rapidly dwindling resources issues) provided it does the exact same job as meat from an animal does - not only in terms of filling your stomach, but also in terms of it's chemical and molecular behaviour once consumed.

as to insects: i've often said that i'd try anything once. And who knows: perhaps grasshopper tastes good with a little honey glaze and a good sauce? . . . mostly people freak out about the idea a certain type of food gives them, and those same people will often eat and enjoy something made from the food that freaks them out if they don't know that it is a part of their meal. i quote things like snake (somewhere between fish and chicken in taste, nice texture), or hedgehog (quite a tasty, rich meat), or horse (one of the best! sweet meat very similar to beef fillet with more flavour) as examples. these meats all taste great, but we have certain ideas about what a horse or snake is for, and we often let our ideas overule our tastebuds. so bring on the lab-grown burger! would it be too much to ask that, if this works, we could maybe start sorting out all of the drought and starvation issues worldwide? maybe for free?

Avatar of: Kitkabootle

Kitkabootle

Posts: 1

August 12, 2013

There's not so much a shortage of food in the world as there is a shortage of human beings that give a fuck about world hunger

Avatar of: dr.mp.mph

dr.mp.mph

Posts: 20

Replied to a comment from Paul Stein made on August 6, 2013

November 29, 2013

You must recognize that this was a prototype. A relevant example might be you attempting to cook a new dish that you have 0 experience with. It usually takes a lot more time and effort the first time than it does during subsequent attempts. Perhaps the first time you baked a cake from scratch?

Efficiency comes with experience. Prototypes are always costly because of the many unknowns.

Give them a little time, and you'll be amazed with what they can do.

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