In the very near future, ‘guilt-free’ burgers which have only ‘lived’ in a dish as a mass of cells might replace ones made from real meat.
One British lab which is creating ‘meat’ grown from animal cells on blades of grass claims that meatballs and burgers made from ‘clean’ meat could be on sale within five years.
Several companies worldwide are working on ‘clean meat’ products – but at present, it typically costs around $20,000 (£15,000) per kilo to ‘grow’ meat in a laboratory.
Some believe that lab-grown meats could offer a solution to climate change and world hunger, and University of Bath researchers are testing a method of ‘growing’ cells on blades of grass.
The blades have their plant cells removed with detergent, so they are like a ‘scaffold’ for the meat to grow on.
Dr Marianne Ellis said, ‘”Cells seem to really like growing on them. And the great thing about grass in particular is its striated, there are there are lines on the grass – you can see them with your eye – and the muscle cells will actually align with this structure.
The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization said industrialized farming contributes on a “massive scale” to climate change, and demand for meat is expected to double between 2000 and 2050 due to population increase.
Researchers say the only way to meet demand without huge cost to the environment is to find a solution to meat substitutes.
Cuts of meat like steak have connective tissue, blood vessels and fat cells which currently make it too complex to reproduce, but the Bath laboratory say they hope simpler lab-grown products like burgers and meatballs will be on supermarket shelves in the next five years.