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Growing meat in the lab has been around a while, we've ground meat and burgers that don’t rely on the slaughter of animals making the news before, but the greater challenge is creating a steak, it’s notoriously difficult to get right. Now an Israel-based start-up has made serious progress by creating what it calls “the world’s first slaughter-free steak”, pieces of sirloin.
Didier Toubia, CEO of Aleph Farms says, “We have successfully produced the first piece of beef steak grown from natural cells, without harming any animals.”
It’s a significant break-through for cellular meat, but as the prototype produced was a bit thin in terms of substance, more work is needed, and it will take three to four years before their product is ready for supermarket shelves.
“Meat is a complex tissue," adds Toubia, "this breakthrough includes various cell types found in conventional cuts of meat grown together outside the animal to form a 3-D structure similar to meat but using more sustainable, safe and ethical methods.”
The lab-grown, ethical steak is a Holy Grail of sorts for food science and the ability to create meat in a lab could transform how we consume food. Total emissions from global livestock: 7.1 Gigatonnes of Co2-equiv per year, represents 14.5 percent of all anthropogenic GHG emissions. Beef farming is major polluter of the atmosphere because of cattle’s own emissions but also because of deforestation to make way for grazing land.
What might have seemed like science fiction even a few years ago is quickly becoming a reality and Food Trends for 2019 will see the likes of sea-sourced vegetables and insects make breakthrough to diners’ plates.
Lab-grown cellular steak might be a few years off but it’s coming and when it does, it might be the most disruptive thing to heat the food supply chain in many, many years. Not everyone is a fan, however.
Aleph Farms’ success looks like a milestone moment for the beef industry. If this is the future of meat, then it stands to reason that the farmer, the supplier, the butcher and even the chef need to be aware of how this will affect their livelihoods in the not-too-distant future.
“It’s close and it tastes good, but we have a bit more work to make sure the taste is 100 per cent similar to conventional meat. But when you cook it, you really can smell the same smell of meat cooking,” says Toubia.