Lab-grown meat challenges ‘status quo’

By Oscar Rousseau

- Last updated on GMT

Memphis Meats has made progress in creating laboratory-made burgers
Memphis Meats has made progress in creating laboratory-made burgers

Related tags Memphis meats Meat Cattle

American start-up Memphis Meats has said it is less than five years away from being able to manufacture enough laboratory-made burgers and meatballs to stock the shelves of US grocery stores. 

Memphis Meats, which grows meat from animal cells, will unveil its cultured meat product in San Francisco today (Thursday 4 February) at the biotech accelerator Indi Bio.

The tiny start-up of stem cell biologists, biomedical engineers and food scientists has been growing meat from cells of cows, chicken and pigs for several years.

“This is absolutely the future of meat,”​ said Memphis Meats CEO Uma Valeti in a press statement ahead of the conference in San Francisco.

“We plan to do to the meat industry what the car did to the horse and buggy. Cultured meat will completely replace the status quo and make raising animals to eat them simply unthinkable.”

The company’s line of lab-grown meat products will include burgers, meatballs and sausages and will fuse the innovation of Silicon Valley with traditional Memphis Tennessee cooking techniques.

In order to grow lab meat – meat that is essentially meatless – scientists isolates animal cells that have the ability to regenerate and provide them with oxygen, nutrients and minerals.

Despite no animals being slaughtered in the process, Memphis Meats said it did use bovine serum from unborn calves’ blood to kick-start the process.

The company claimed that being able to manufacture lab-meat made it “healthier, safer, and more sustainable than conventional animal agriculture”​.

Scientific data has also suggested that lab-made meat has environmental benefits. Memphis Meats’ projected water footprint is over 82% lower than conventional meat products, according to a 2011 study on the environmental impact of meat products by Oxford University.

Memphis Meats is funded by SOS Venture – the company that funded Netflix and Guitar Hero – and is close to achieving $2m worth of investment from other interested parties.

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