In all our communication, we take time to explain what exactly cultivated meat is and how it’s produced. Then, why not to write an article on the subject 🙂
The concept of cultivated meat was popularized in the early 2000s by Jason Matheny, who co-authored a paper on cultured meat production. However, the media attention took place in 2013 when Mark Post, a Dutch scientist, unveiled the first cultivated meat burger on live television. This event sparked a wave of interest and development in the field.
Also known as cultured, lab-grown, or cell-based meat, cultivated meat is genuine animal meat produced by cultivating animal cells directly. It eliminates the need for conventional animal farming, yet provides a product that replicates the sensory and nutritional profiles of traditionally sourced meat. This means that you could enjoy a juicy steak or a tender chicken breast that was grown in a lab, not on a farm.
At the heart of this technology are two types of cells: stem cells and primary cells.
Stem cells are the body’s building blocks with the ability to transform into various types of body cells. For the production of cultivated meat, these cells are harvested from animals and then placed in bioreactors, or cultivators. These devices mimic the conditions inside an animal’s body, providing the cells with an oxygen-rich cell culture medium supplemented with nutrients and proteins essential for growth. As the stem cells proliferate in this environment, changes in the medium composition and cues from a scaffolding structure guide them to differentiate into the skeletal muscle, fat, and connective tissues that form meat.
Primary cells represent another viable source for cultivating meat. These are cells directly isolated from animal tissues that retain many of the functional characteristics of the tissue of origin. While they don’t have the same broad potential for differentiation as stem cells, primary cells can be an excellent source for producing specific types of meat. They can be cultivated under similar conditions to stem cells, with adjustments made to the cell culture environment to support their specific growth and development.
Regardless of whether stem cells or primary cells are used, the differentiated cells are eventually harvested, prepared, and packaged into the final meat product. The entire process, from cell collection to meat production, can take between 2 and 8 weeks depending on the type of meat being cultivated.
The potential of cultivated meat isn’t limited to common meats like chicken, beef, or pork. Companies are also exploring the cultivation of high-end and exotic meats such as elk, lamb, bison, and Wagyu beef. Seafood, too, is part of this exciting frontier, with ongoing efforts to cultivate different species of fish and other marine delights. This means that in the future, our plates might be adorned with a range of sustainably produced, cultivated meats that satisfy our gastronomic desires while reducing our environmental footprint.
Have you any question about cultivated meat? Just ask us!