May 13, 2013
Test Tube Burger To Be Served In London Next Month
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
In the summer of 2011, Mark Post, a professor of physiology at Maastricht University in the Netherlands, made headlines when he first began to discuss the real possibilities of creating a test tube burger. Though Post claims these burgers will be important to remove some of the dependence humans have on livestock for food, many were unable to get past headlines which bore the phrase “Test-tube Burger.”
With some monetary help from the Dutch government and tens of thousands of bovine stem cells, Post´s in-vitro burger is nearly ready to be cooked and served at an event in London next month. Post plans to garnish the burger with only salt and pepper to allow taste testers the chance to get a sense of the meat´s flavor. According to the Register, Post has said that early “informal taste tests” of the meat found that it tastes “reasonably good.”
The meat consists of 20,000 thin strips of meat tissue which has been grown from stem cells. This meat is extremely lean, and this absence of fat is likely to blame — at least in part — for its alleged mediocre flavor. Not surprisingly, the meat is also incredibly expensive. All told, a single patty of this in-vitro meat is said to have cost nearly $325,000 to produce. Each patty is roughly the same size as a Burger King Whopper or McDonald´s Big Mac, and only those who have been specifically chosen for the event will be able to chow down on Post´s burger later next month.
Post says he expects people to have a negative reaction to his meat when they first hear about it or even taste it. Yet it´s something he´s willing to endure for the good of the planet. The beef industry has been criticized for damaging delicate ecosystems and the earth´s atmosphere. Between the methane that flatulent cows produce and the fuel used to cart the cows and their meat products around, there´s plenty of gas released into the air just to deliver a hamburger to your table.
What´s more, Post believes that one day soon there will not be enough beef to feed a growing mass of humans. This burger is simply the first step towards a solution for a possible food-shortage crisis. The Dutch researcher is also ready to face some questions about the safety and potential health risks or benefits of his meat.
“I see the major hurdles, probably better than anybody else,” he said, according to the New York Times.
“But you´ve got to have faith in technological advances, that they will be solved. If it can be done more efficiently, there´s no reason why it can´t be cheaper,” he said.
“It has to be done using the right materials, introducing recycling into the system, controlling labor through automation.”
It´s important to note that Post´s burger is made from 100 percent beef products, which may cause some to squirm. The stem cells were harvested from the neck of a cow on its way to slaughter, then grown in fetal calf serum and other materials used to recreate tissue.
Post isn´t shy about his intentions to rid the world of its dependence on beef, telling the Register: “If we can reduce the global herd a millionfold, then I´m happy. I don´t need to reduce it a billionfold.”
He isn´t the first to grow meat for eating in test tubes, however. In 2009, scientists were able to grow strips of pork using the same method. After eating it, the scientists said it was not at all appetizing, stating that it was grayish colored and had the consistency of calamari.