Clean meat, grown from in vitro animal cells is set to revolutionise the food industry, but its concept is not a new one. In 1931, Winston Churchill was quoted as saying ‘We shall escape the absurdity of growing a whole chicken to eat the breast or wing, by growing these parts separately under a suitable medium’. While certainly a radical leader, Churchill’s conjecture shows that there has been a desire for alternative sources of food that don’t involve mass slaughtering of animals long before science has caught up.
With clean meat hitting shelves this year, and chicken first up on the menu, people are beginning to wonder just how healthy this innovative food source will be. While no one can know for sure at this early stage, there are a couple of respected opinions emerging from thought leaders and health protection agencies on this subject.
According to Graham Colditz, a cancer researcher at Washington University, clean meat is a ‘colon-safer product’ due to having no heme iron content, which can damage DNA and increase the risk of cancers. With traditional meat products, particularly red meats, there has long been an awareness of the health risks attached to their regular consumption.
The Cancer Council estimated that one in six bowl cancer cases diagnosed in 2010 were associated with excessive red and processed meat consumption. With substantial evidence pointing to the carcinogenic qualities of meat, surely its clean alternative is going to be a better option.
Joan Salge Blake, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in the United States, believes that cultured meat will prove to be better for our health and waistline. The scientific ability to replace the saturated fat naturally occurring in traditional meat with a healthier alternative will potentially contribute to a reduction in a range of chronic diseases including diabetes. This is promising news given the rising global prevalence of the illness.
Another key discussion point around the health benefits of clean meat pertains to the reduced risks of diseases and bacterial contamination, which are associated with products from livestock. Uma Valeti, CEO of Memphis Meats says “Because we do not need to slaughter animals, we expect a much lower risk of faecal contamination, E. coli and salmonella, among others,” he said. “Similarly, the risk of disease — swine flu, mad cow disease, avian flu and more — will be greatly reduced in our process.”
While it will be many years before there will be actual data to verify or negate these health claims about clean meat, the future of cellular agriculture is looking bright.
For more thought-provoking articles and guest posts on a range of diverse subjects visit Twoggle.