Lab-grown Meat Created With Algae is Set to Take Root
Last Updated: February 07, 2023, 09:58 IST
Microalgae could help make the production of cultured meat more economically viable. (Credits: AFP)
To understand the various and numerous innovations in cellular meat — also known as lab meat or in-vitro meat — one must understand the main principles of this new scientific technology.
It’s an area that is currently witnessing a lot of innovations: cellular meat. We have seen recipes based on barley and even tobacco. But, in the Czech Republic, a start-up is working to make the economic model of this meatless meat a viable reality, turning to algae to make the process cheaper.
To understand the various and numerous innovations in cellular meat — also known as lab meat or in-vitro meat — one must understand the main principles of this new scientific technology. It starts with taking cells from the animal whose meat is set to be reproduced. To activate the multiplication of these harvested cells and obtain muscle fibers, not only nutrients are necessary. Hormones are also required. Since cell meat protocols have been in existence, fetal serum has been used to provide the growth factors needed to make the process happen. In addition to the cost of this technique, there are also ethical problems with respect to animal welfare.
To solve this problem, a start-up based in the Czech Republic says that it has found another solution: cultivating microalgae that enables bypassing the use of fetal bovine serum. In short, lab-grown meat could be produced by combining cells from an animal with those from microalgae. The Mewery company claims to be the first to make 100% cellular meat. According to the company, other products of this type incorporate soy and peas to fine-tune their recipes, which consist of “only” 30 to 50% cellular content. In the case of Mewery, which chose pork as its star product, it mixes 75% animal cells with 25% cells extracted from microalgae. In concrete terms, this results in sausages, meatballs, minced meat and even pork tenderloin.
With Mewey hoping to be selling its seaweed-based meat to restaurants by 2025, we could be tasting it within two years. This is the goal of the Czech company. However, the European Union must first authorize the sale of this type of foodstuff, known as “novel food.” Singapore has already approved the commercialization of such foods, while in the United States the agency in charge of food safety (FDA) gave the green light last November to a start-up that cultivates animal cells to produce meat. A year earlier, this company called Upside Foods had opened the first American cellular meat production plant, with the ambition of making 23 tons of meat per year.
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