The first “cultured” burger was taste tested today in London. The result of a two year project headed by Dr. Mark Post, a researcher at the University of Maastricht, the five ounce burger was seasoned with spices, breadcrumbs, and eggs and fried in butter and served at a press conference. The burger was sampled by Dr. Post and Austrian Nutritional scientist, Hanni Raetzler and writer, Josh Schonwald, author of The Taste of Tomorrow. Dr. Post said that he was satisfied with the overall taste. Dr. Post said that more research is needed, but in ten years this type of meat could be commercially available. One of the founders of Google, Sergey Brin, concerned about animal welfare, funded this project.
To make the burger stem cells were taken from cow shoulder muscle found in a slaughterhouse. The cells were multiplied in a nutrient solution with growth promoting chemicals to help them develop and multiply. Then after three weeks there were more than a million stem cells which were then placed into small petri dishes where they became muscle cells and formed tiny strips of muscle fiber.
20,000 of those strips were needed to make a five ounce burger. The resulting meat was white in color so a compound called myoglobin had to be added to give it a red color.
The meat contained no fat at all so it had to be fried using a lot of butter. Dr. Post said that they are working on that and also the cost. This sample cost approximately $325,000 dollars. At this current production cost, the meat would cost 30 dollars a pound.
Dr. Post said that he was happy with how the burger tasted. The demonstration in London was made to garner more money to continue research.
Recent studies have shown that producing cultured meat in laboratories could greatly reduce water, land and energy use and reduce the emissions of methane and other greenhouse gases. Depending on how the cells are harvested no animals might need to be killed.
This research is also important because it could answer a growing demand for meat and possibly feed the world’s poorest populations.
Not everyone present at the demonstration was happy with the world’s first lab burger. Both Hanni Raetzler and Josh Schonwald said that the burger tasted “almost real.” Raetzler said that she was expected a softer texture while Shonwald added that it tasted like an animal protein cake.
Written By: Karen Walcott