Commercial lab-grown meat could be just 5 years away

16 Oct 2015

A Dutch research team that was responsible for growing the world’s first lab-grown burger said that it is aiming to have a commercially-available product available in the next five years.

The Dutch team already created an example of lab-grown meat two years ago when it received notable attention for creating the burger made from stem cells that, while edible, cost nearly €300,000 to make and didn’t taste like an eye-wateringly expensive burger.

According to the BBC, the Maastricht University team has been working on developing a more palatable fake meat and, it seems, it thinks its just a few years away from cracking a tasty and affordable meatless meat.

“I feel extremely excited about the prospect of this product being on sale,” said the head of the new company set up to sell the product, Mosa Beef, Peter Verstrate. “And I am confident that when it is offered as an alternative to meat that increasing numbers of people will find it hard not to buy our product for ethical reasons”.

The desire and need for an alternative solution to meat has existed for some time as the world’s population expands and food consumption increases to match.

Can be made at a fraction of environmental cost

Not only that, but meat production in agriculture is one of the most energy and resource consuming, something the developer of the project, Prof Mark Post, believes can be greatly reduced by lab-grown meat.

From previous research, this lab-grown method of meat production would make considerable savings in energy, emissions and land use, with each being 55pc, 4pc and 1pc, respectively, of the same amount of meat produced traditionally.

Speaking of what the next steps are for creating the fake beef, Verstrate said that it needs to replicate all the factors found in beef.

“[The prototype burger] consisted of protein, muscle fibre. But meat is much more than that, it is blood, its fat, its connective tissue, all of which adds to the taste and texture”.

“If you want to mimic meat you have to make all those things too — and you can use tissue engineering technologies — but we hadn’t done that at the time”.

Burger image via Anna Lee/Flickr

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic