Slaughter-Free Lab Grown Steak Cast As Ethically Friendly Alternative
Lab-grown meat—also known as cultured meat or in vitro meat—is often cast as an environmentally and ethically friendly alternative to raising traditional livestock.
These slaughter-free products aren’t available on the market yet, but the dream is so enticing that Bill Gates, Richard Branson and even Tyson Foods—one of the country’s largest meat companies—have made big bets on it.
Now, Israeli food tech startup Aleph Farms said Wednesday it has created the world’s first lab-grown steak that has “the full experience of meat with the appearance, shape and texture of beef cuts.”
Aleph Farms said the problem with grown meat production is getting the various cell types to interact with each other to build a complete tissue structure as they would inside the animal. But the company was able to overcome this barrier through a bio-engineering platform developed in collaboration with the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa.
“Making a patty or a sausage from cells cultured outside the animal is challenging enough, imagine how difficult it is to create a whole-muscle steak,” Didier Toubia, co-founder and CEO of Aleph Farms, in a press release. “We’ve transformed the vision into reality by growing a steak under controlled conditions. The initial products are still relatively thin, but the technology we developed marks a true breakthrough and a great leap forward in producing a cell-grown steak.”
Although some food tech companies have made prototypes of lab-grown sausages, chicken nuggets and chicken strips, Aleph headed straight for the “holy grail” of cell-grown foods: steak, as Business Insider noted. It’s much harder to replicate the texture and flavor of a steak compared to, say, burgers or meatballs.
Tyson Foods Invests in 'Clean Meat’ https://t.co/OawvFDJxwk #TysonFoods @OrganicConsumer @regeneration_in @peta @foodandwater @foodtank
— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch) January 30, 2018
Aleph was able to grow their steaks using four types of animal cells in three dimensions instead of growing only one or two types of animal cells on a flat surface, according to Business Insider. The company also claims that its steaks were grown without using fetal bovine serum.
The prototype steaks took 2-3 weeks to produce and cost $50, Toubia said.
Aleph Farms’ product is called a “minute steak” because it only takes a minute to cook.
“For me, it is a great experience to eat meat that has the look and feel of beef but has been grown without antibiotics and causes no harm to animals or the environment,” Amir Ilan, chef of the Israeli restaurant Paris Texas and the chef in the video, said in the press release. “Aleph Farms meat has high culinary potential—it can be readily incorporated into top-shelf preparations or served in premium-casual restaurants, trendy cafes, bistros, or other eateries.”