Full Details of World’s first lab-grown burger called the ‘Googleburger’.
The world’s first lab-grown burger has been cooked and eaten at a news conference in London.
Scientists took 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.
The burger was cooked by chef Richard McGeown, from Cornwall, and tasted by food critics Hanni Ruetzler and Josh Schonwald.
The world’s population is continuing to increase and an ever greater proportion want to eat meat. To meet that demand farmers will need to use more energy, water and land – and the consequent increase in greenhouse gas emission will be substantial.
The plan for lab-grown burgers has won support from some animal welfare and vegetarian groups, who feel it addresses their concerns about animal suffering.
But critics say technological fixes, whether it is lab-grown meat or GM crops address the symptoms rather than the causes of world hunger. What is needed, they say, are policies that enable more farmers to produce more food more efficiently and to distribute it more equitably.
And then of course there is the taste. Even those behind the stem cell project agree that the meat grown will never taste as good as that from an animal. But as prices rise, environmental pressures grow and concerns over animal welfare increase, they argue their approach is the only ethical and pragmatic way forward.
Upon tasting the burger, Austrian food researcher Ms Ruetzler said: “I was expecting the texture to be more soft… there is quite some intense taste; it’s close to meat, but it’s not that juicy. The consistency is perfect, but I miss salt and pepper.
“This is meat to me. It’s not falling apart.”
Food writer Mr Schonwald said: “The mouthfeel is like meat. I miss the fat, there’s a leanness to it, but the general bite feels like a hamburger.
“What was consistently different was flavour.”
Prof Mark Post, of Maastricht University, the scientist behind the burger, remarked: “It’s a very good start.”
The professor said the meat was made up of tens of billions of lab-grown cells. Asked when lab-grown burgers would reach the market, he said: “I think it will take a while. This is just to show we can do it.”
Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google, has been revealed as the project’s mystery backer. He funded the £215,000 ($330,000) research.
Prof Tara Garnett, head of the Food Policy Research Network at Oxford University, said decision-makers needed to look beyond technological solutions.
“We have a situation where 1.4 billion people in the world are overweight and obese, and at the same time one billion people worldwide go to bed hungry,” she said.
“That’s just weird and unacceptable. The solutions don’t just lie with producing more food but changing the systems of supply and access and affordability, so not just more food but better food gets to the people who need it.”
Stem cells are the body’s “master cells”, the templates from which specialised tissue such as nerve or skin cells develop.
Most institutes working in this area are trying to grow human tissue for transplantation to replace worn-out or diseased muscle, nerve cells or cartilage.
Prof Post is using similar techniques to grow muscle and fat for food.
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 centimetre long and a few millimetres 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.
Because the meat is initially white in colour, Helen Breewood – who works with Prof Post – is trying to make the lab-grown muscle look red by adding the naturally-occurring compound myoglobin.
“If it doesn’t look like normal meat, if it doesn’t taste like normal meat, it’s not… going to be a viable replacement,” she said.
She added: “A lot of people consider lab-grown meat repulsive at first. But if they consider what goes into producing normal meat in a slaughterhouse, I think they would also find that repulsive.”
Currently, this is a work in progress. The burger revealed on Monday was coloured red with beetroot juice. The researchers have also added breadcrumbs, caramel and saffron, which were intended to add to the taste, although Ms Ruetzler said she could not taste these.
At the moment, scientists can only make small pieces of meat; larger ones would require artificial circulatory systems to distribute nutrients and oxygen.
In a statement, animal welfare campaigners People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) said: “[Lab-grown meat] will spell the end of lorries full of cows and chickens, abattoirs and factory farming. It will reduce carbon emissions, conserve water and make the food supply safer.”
Critics of the technology say that eating less meat would be an easier way to tackle predicted food shortages.
The latest United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization report on the future of agriculture indicates that most of the predicted growth in demand for meat from China and Brazil has already happened and many Indians are wedded to their largely vegetarian diets for cultural and culinary reasons.
‘At least it tastes of meat!’: World’s first test-tube artificial beef ‘Googleburger’ gets GOOD review as it’s eaten for the first time
- The 142g patty cost £250,000 to make and consists of meat grown in a lab
- Total of 20,000 strips of meat were grown in petri dishes in the Netherlands
- The artificial meat was electrically stimulated to bulk up the ‘muscle’ and then blended with 200 pieces of lab-grown animal fat
- Red beetroot juice and saffron added to provide authentic beef colouring
- It has also been revealed that one of the burger’s financial backers is computer entrepreneur, and Google co-founder, Sergey Brin
It may look like something you’d chuck on the barbecue without a second thought, but this round of meat costs a very beefy £250,000 — as the world’s first test-tube burger.
After the patty was lightly fried in a little butter and sunflower oil yesterday, the two volunteers chosen to taste it in front of a live audience were hardly effusive, though.
‘I was expecting the texture to be more soft,’ said Austrian food researcher Hanni Rutzler, taking 27 chews before being able to swallow a mouthful. ‘It’s close to meat — it’s not that juicy.’
The second volunteer, food writer Josh Schonwald added: ‘The absence is the fat. But the bite feels like a conventional hamburger. What was conspicuously different was flavour.’
The world’s first test-tube burger, made from lab-grown meat, (pictured) has been cooked and eaten in London today. The 142g patty was developed by Professor Mark Post (pictured) of Maastricht University in the Netherlands. It cost £250,000 to produce and is made from 20,000 strips of meat grown from cow stem cells
The ‘cultured beef’ takes three months to grow in a laboratory, using cells from a living cow.
Its creator, Dutch scientist Mark Post, claims it could revolutionise the food industry and help save the planet. He believes that artificial meat products could be sold in supermarkets within a decade.
After tasting his invention yesterday, he said: ‘I think it’s a very good start — it proved that we can do this, that we can make it. We are basically catering towards letting beef-eaters eat beef in an environmentally ethical way.’
The man-made patty (pictured) was fried in a pan and sampled by two volunteers – US-based food author Josh Schonwald and Austrian food researcher Hanni Ruetzler. Ms Ruetzler said that it had the ‘perfect consistency’
Video: How world’s first test-tube burger was grown
Video: Tasting the test-tube burger: the verdict
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