Scientists produce world's first test tube burger

Submitted by Freedomman on Wed, 09/14/2011 - 14:39

LONDON, England - September 1, 2011 - It will cost £220,000 to produce and will probably have the slippery texture of squid or scallops. But scientists are salivating over the prospect of the world’s first test-tube burger, which could be less than a year away.

Sausages and other processed meat products could swiftly follow, although pork chops and sirloin steaks will be much more problematic.

Produced in huge vats from muscle cells, the “meat without slaughter” would be kinder to the environment than the real thing, reduce animal suffering, and help feed the world’s burgeoning population.

Despite its huge initial cost, industrial scale production could see the price plummet to equal or less than that of real meat.

However, it remains to be seen whether it will find favor with a public that likes to think of its chops, steaks and sausages as having their roots in nature rather than test-tubes.

Others might find the synthetic meat’s texture and pallid color unappetizing.

The Daily Mail told in June how government-funded Dutch scientists had found a way of turning muscle cells extracted from pigs into rashers of pork.

More details emerged in this week’s New Scientist magazine.

Incubated in a protein “broth”, the microscopic cells multiply many times over, creating a sticky tissue with the consistency of an undercooked egg.

This “wasted muscle” is then bulked up through the laboratory equivalent of exercise - it is anchored to Velcro and stretched.

Maastricht University researcher Mark Post told the journal, “I am hopeful we can have a hamburger in a year.”

Other possibilities include synthetic versions of the flesh of rare animals such as pandas.

A conference in Sweden this week heard that the meat we eat at the moment isn’t necessarily the tastiest - it just comes from animals that have been easy to domesticate.

A small sample of cells from a living panda would provide the starting material for ethical burgers.