It looks and tastes almost exactly like beef, yet is produced under sterile conditions: cultured meat also referred to as clean meat, might be a solution to all the nasty problems that livestock production has brought about.
Made in a laboratory without any harm to animals, clean meat could save a lot of space and resources required for regular livestock production while taking the ethical part of meat consumption out of the equation. Ten years ago, the idea of growing meat in Petri dishes might have seemed absurd. Today, however, it is one of the hottest and boldest topics in food technology.
Space goldfish and a quarter-million burger patty
The technology of so-called tissue engineering is not new: for many years, researchers have been able to grow human heart valves or skin tissue in Petri dishes. The research on growing animal tissue, however, dates back to early 2000s, when NASA decided to culture goldfish to feed the long-distance space travellers (yes, you read correctly).
As the project was quickly discontinued, the research on cultured meat only gained momentum ten years later, in 2013, when Dutch scientist Mark Post managed to produce the world’s first lab-grown beef burger. Food expert Hanni Rützler was the first person to take a bite of the patty, which – given the expensive lab equipment and highly skilled technicians – cost about €250,000.