Nutrition Notes: Clean meat

by Donna Berry
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Memphis Meats meatball on pasta with olives
Cell-culture technology will be the focus of a discussion session at the IFT Annual Meeting and Expo in Las Vegas. 
(photo: Memphis Meats)
 
The idea of producing meat using cell culture in a controlled and sterile environment, rather than from slaughtered animals has been discussed for decades. However, the technology to make this vision a reality has only recently come to fruition.

Scientists at Maastricht Univ. in The Netherlands have created cultured beef by harvesting muscle cells from living cows. These cells are fed and cultivated to multiply and create muscle tissue, much like that obtained from animals and consumed by humans.

New York City-based New Harvest, a non-profit institute, has funded research in cultured beef, chicken, turkey, pork and lobster. Most recently, Tufts Univ., Medford, Massachusetts, started the first doctoral program in cellular agriculture in the US.

These groups are focused on producing “clean meat,” which is also known as cell-cultured meat. Scientists believe that such cellular agriculture can address many of the most pressing concerns about conventional animal agriculture, including land use, water consumption, food safety, antibiotic overuse and animal welfare concerns. This will be the focus of session 33—Clean Meat: Producing Meat without Animals Using Cell-Culture Technology—at the Institute of Food Technologist’s (IFT) annual meeting and expo in Las Vegas, June 25-27.

 Memphis Meats meatball in frying pan
Memphis Meats developed the first cell-cultured meatball.
(photo: Memphis Meats)
 

The session will be moderated by Liz Specht, senior scientist with the Good Food Institute (GFI), Washington, DC. She will introduce the concept of clean meat and explain efforts by GFI to support the proliferation of this technology.

Speakers include Uma Valeti, a cardiologist by training, an advisory board member at GFI and the CEO and co-founder of Memphis Meats, San Leandro, California. Memphis Meats is the world’s leading clean meat company producing meat directly from animal cells without raising animals. Launched in 2015, Valeti will address the opportunities this field exhibits for entrepreneurial endeavors, the challenges he faced in launching Memphis Meats, and an update of the rapid progress Memphis Meats has made in the past year.

David Kaplan, professor of biomedical engineering at Tufts Univ., will discuss the science of tissue engineering and how it can be applied to foods of the future, including clean meat. Rebecca Cross, a San Francisco-based lawyer who focuses on regulatory, litigation and policy issues for branded food and beverage clients and their investors, will provide insight on the regulatory road map that these new products will have to navigate—addressing questions of jurisdiction, labeling and food safety—as well as discuss issues of transparency and consumer acceptability.

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