Memphis Meats, a San Francisco-based startup, is confident its lab-grown meat can help satisfy our hunger for meat. The company says that its "cultured meat” creates 90 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than traditional animal farming. Not only that, the meatballs actually look pretty tasty.
The startup has had millions of dollars of investment and seed funding, with the hope of getting a range of slaughter-free meat – including hot dogs, sausages, burgers, and meatballs – on the market within five years.
It takes 23 calories of animal feed to produce one calorie of beef. This startup's lab-grown meat is significantly more efficient and requires just three calories of energy to create one calorie of food. Lab-grown meat also has the advantage of being free from antibiotics, fecal matter, pathogens, and other contaminants found in conventional meat – reducing the risk of foodborne illnesses.
“This is absolutely the future of meat,” Uma Valeti, CEO of Memphis Meats, announced this week.
“We plan to do to the meat industry what the car did to the horse and buggy. Cultured meat will completely replace the status quo and make raising animals to eat them simply unthinkable.”
The process to grow their “test-tube” meat starts by isolating cells from pigs, cows and chickens that have a high capacity to regenerate. With the addition of oxygen, sugars and other nutrients, the cells are placed into bioreactor tanks where they can then be harvested between nine to 21 days later, the Mail Online reports.
During this process, cell growth is boosted with the addition of unborn calf blood serum, an ingredient used in labs for virtually all cell types. Although this will undoubtedly put many vegetarians off, Memphis Meats say they are working on a plant-based alternative to the serum.
The extraction and use of this nutrient stew is also a pricey matter. A pound of this meat will set you back $18,000 (£12,450) – compared to around $4 (£2.77) for a pound of meat in U.S. supermarkets. So, whatever you do – don’t burn it.
Despite the costly overheads, the company is confident it can reduce it down to $11 (£7.61) a burger patty. Valeti told the Wall Street Journal, "We believe that in 20 years, a majority of meat sold in stores will be cultured."