World’s first lab-grown burger is eaten in London

August 6, 2013

World’s first lab-grown burger (credit: BBC)

The world’s first lab-grown burger was cooked and eaten at a news conference in London, BBC News reports.

Scientists took stem cells from a cow and, at an institute in the Netherlands, turned them into strips of muscle that they combined to make a patty.

One food expert said it was “close to meat, but not that juicy” and another said it tasted like a real burger.

Researchers say the technology could be a sustainable way of meeting what they say is a growing demand for meat.

Making meat from stem cells

Prof Mark Post, of Maastricht University, the scientist behind the burger, said the meat was made up of tens of billions of lab-grown cells.

He starts with stem cells extracted from cow muscle tissue. In the laboratory, these are cultured with nutrients and growth-promoting chemicals to help them develop and multiply. Three weeks later, there are more than a million stem cells, which are put into smaller dishes where they coalesce into small strips of muscle about a centimeter long and a few millimeters thick.

These strips are collected into small pellets, which are frozen. When there are enough, they are defrosted and compacted into a patty just before being cooked.

An independent study found that lab-grown beef uses 45% less energy than the average global representative figure for farming cattle. It also produces 96% fewer greenhouse gas emissions and requires 99% less land. [...]

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