Taste-Testers Try The World’s First $384,000 Test-Tube Burger

August 5, 2013  |  

Professor Mark Post with some of his “cultured beef.” David Parry / PA Wire

Would you dare to eat a lab-grown hamburger cultured from cattle stem cells? Two volunteers took up the challenge and tried in-vitro meat created by Professor Mark Post of Masstricht University. The taste-testers claimed the burger could have been a bit more flavorful, reports Business Insider.

How on earth did he create a hamburger in a lab? Cow muscle cells are harvested and placed in a petri dish along with a mélange of nutrients: sugars, fats, amino acids, and minerals. “The cells become muscle tissue and grow into small strands of meat,” Business Insider adds, “Around 20,000 meat strands are needed to make one five-ounce burger, Post says.” It costs $384,000 to make one burger.

Scientists then roll up their sleeves and bring out their inner chef: salt, breadcrumbs, egg powder are mixed in with the cultured beef. Red beet juice and saffron add color to the burger, because without it, the beef remains an unappealing grayish color due to the absence of blood cells.

On Monday, the world’s first test-tube burger was debuted on a live feed on CulturedBeef.net in London. It was fried and eaten by brave taste-testers Chicago writer Josh Schonwald and Austrian food researcher Hanni Rützler.

“I would say it’s close to meat. I miss the salt and pepper,” said Rützler. “The absence is the fat, it’s a leanness to it, but the bite feels like a conventional hamburger,” added Schonwald. However, scientists note that they aren’t too concerned about the critics’ judgment on flavor.

“Taste is the least [important] problem since this could be controlled by letting some of the stem cells develop into fat cells,” said Stig Omholt, biotechnology director at the Norwegian University of Life sciences. Post says it’s crucial that the test-tube beef has the same “look, feel and taste” as a real one.

Post explains that the main purpose behind the cloned burger is to end the looming food crisis and to pacify the growing demand for meat without “destroying the environment or harming animals,” reports Business Insider.

PETA is right on board with Post’s mission. “Instead of the millions and billions [of animals] being slaughtered now, we could just clone a few cells to make burgers or chops,” said Ingrid Newkirk, PETA’s president.

Post believes his vision—commercial production of cultured beef—may become a reality within the next 10 to 20 years.

Would you try a test-tube burger? More info in the video below.

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