A UK startup has produced another milestone in the strange science of lab-grown meat: the first-ever cultivated steak fillet.
The landmark was laid by 3D Bio-Tissues (3DBT), a bio-tech firm based in Newcastle. Founded in 2019, the company cultivated human corneas for vision-impaired people before applying its techniques to meat.
3DBT has good reasons for the move. CE Delft, an independent research firm, estimates that cultivated meat could cause 92% less global warming and 93% less air pollution, while using 95% less land and 78% less water.
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There is also a strong business case for the produce. Consulting firm McKinsey predicts the market for cultivated meat could reach $25 billion (€26 billion) by 2030.
3DBT’s landmark fillet began life as cells extracted from pigs. The cells were then grown, divided, and turned into structured meat.
One ingredient the company didn’t use is fetal bovine serum (FBS), a common cell growth component. The liquid’s popularity has plummeted amid an outcry over its production from cattle foetuses.
Instead of FBS, 3DBT uses a patented cell booster called City-mix, which provides structural integrity to the meat.
That’s all well-and-good, but the real test is in the taste. According to 3DBT, the product passed with flying colours.
The steak, the company said, replicated the flavour, texture, and appearance of a regular pork meat fillet.
“We are absolutely delighted with the appearance, taste, aroma, and texture of our cultivated pork, which is the first time we have fully sampled our product,” Che Connon, CEO of 3DBT, said in a statement.
“Our cruelty-free fillet has exceeded our expectations in all respects, and we are extremely excited about the technological progress we are making and the impact this could have on our industry.”
The company now plans to soon showcase at a public event in London.
As a vegetarian whose childhood favourite food was steak, the fillet is another challenge to my (extremely loose) morals. Naturally, I’ve asked for a taste of the lab-grown delicacy.
We’ll let you know if my request is approved. In the meantime, we’d love to hear your thoughts on the latest cellular flesh. Whether you’re a sinless vegetarian or a good old fashioned murderer, let us know whether you’d try it via the usual channels.