How to grow a burger

Science

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Scientists at Maastricht University in the Netherlands have developed a way of “growing” a beef burger, by using adult cow stem cells! The burger itself has said to have cost almost ¬£250,000 to produce – making it the most expensive burger ever made. Not your average McDonalds anyway.

The burger was made by culturing bovine stem cells and from these, making strands of muscle which would then be put together to make the complete burger. Around 3000 strands were compiled to make the complete patty, with each strand only measuring around 2cm long and 2mm thick. The strips are collected into small pellets and frozen. When there is enough muscle tissue the pellets are defrosted and compacted into a burger.

Cultured beef burger (Photo: David Parry/PA)

Cultured beef burger (Photo: David Parry/PA)

The scientist who made the concept come to life was Professor Mark Post. He believes that this synthetic meat could be the answer to the worlds growing demand for meat and eventually hopes to to keep a limited number of donor animals in the world provide stem cells for this synthetic meat.

An article in the Independent goes on to explain how this synthetic method can be a far more economical and environmentally friendly way of producing meat in comparison to the conventional livestock method. It states that stem cells taken from 1 animal could produce a million times more  synthetic meat than what could be butchered from an animal carcass.

BUT…

The big question is, how will it taste? And will people be prepared to eat this new type of meat over the traditional lets say Aberdeen Angus beefburger?

An article on the BBC News website tells us about the taste verdict, when it was cooked and eaten in London. The general consensus of the food critics was that the general feel and “bite” of the beefburger was there but they felt the fat was missing which gives a leanness to the burger. I’m not sure, personally if I could get over the fact that the meat I was eating was completely synthetic, but I would definitely give it a go – Samuel L. seems to be convinced anyway.

So, how long are we away from picking up one of these burgers on a supermarket shelf?

Well Professor Mark Post stated “I think it will take a while. This is just to show we can do it”- but hey, they did it. Another one for science.

Sources

  1. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-23576143
  2. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/special-report-in-vitro-beef–its-the-meat-of-the-future-8735104.html