LONDON – After much hoopla, scientists from the Univ. of Maastricht in the Netherlands unveiled a hamburger grown from bovine stem cells. Taste testers sampled the burger during a press conference that was streamed via the Internet from Riverside Studios in West London.
The lab-grown burger is the creation of Prof. Mark Post, a physiologist from Maastricht. Prof. Post and his team created the burger from stem cells taken from cow muscle. The cells grew with the aid of nutrients and eventually developed into strips of muscle. Roughly 20,000 strips are needed to make one 5 oz. patty. Commercial production of Cultured Beef could begin within 10 to 20 years.
The taste testers were Josh Schonwald, a Chicago-based food writer, and Hanni Rutzler, an Austrian food researcher. The burger was seasoned with salt, egg powder, breadcrumbs, beet juice and saffron, according to news reports. The testers liked the texture, but found the patty lacking in flavor.
Prof. Post said he believes “Cultured Beef” could help solve a looming food crisis and combat climate change.
“What we are trying today is important because I hope it will show Cultured Beef has the answers to major problems that the world faces,” Prof. Post said.
Google co-founder, Sergey Brin provided $300,000 to fund the project.
“There are basically three things that can happen going forward,” Brin said. “One is that we all become vegetarian. I don’t think that’s really likely. The second is we ignore the issues and that leads to continued environmental harm, and the third option is we do something new.
“Sometimes when technology comes along, it has the capability to transform how we view our world. I like to look at technology opportunities. When technology seems like it is on the cusp of viability and if it succeeds there, it can be really transformative for the world,” he added.