Memphis Meats' cultured meatball with pasta
Memphis Meats' cultured meat products initially will include hot dogs, sausages, burgers and meatballs. (Photo: Memphis Meats)

SAN FRANCISCO – “Test-tube” beef is moving beyond the lab. Memphis Meats, a company founded by three scientists, is working to become the first company to sell meat grown from animal stem cells. The company will debut Feb. 4 when the founders present to investors at Indie Bio, a biotech accelerator created by venture capital firm SOS Ventures.

Memphis Meats says it already is growing meat in small quantities using cells from cows, pigs and chickens. The company’s founders expect to have products ready to market in less than five years. Products will include hot dogs, sausages, burgers and meatballs. Memphis Meats said the company closing in on a $2 million seed round of venture capital funds in addition to initial accelerator funding from SOS Ventures.

“This is absolutely the future of meat,” said Uma Valeti, MD, Memphis Meats co-founder and CEO. “We plan to do to the meat industry what the car did to the horse and buggy. Cultured meat will completely replace the status quo and make raising animals to eat them simply unthinkable.”

Valeti is a Mayo Clinic-trained cardiologist and an associate professor of medicine at the Univ. of Minnesota. He also is president of the Twin Cities American Heart Association. Valeti founded Memphis Meats with Nicholas Genovese, Ph.D., a stem cell biologist, and Will Clem, Ph.D., a biomedical engineer who owns a chain of barbeque restaurants in Memphis.

Memphis Meats, along with Modern Meadow Inc. and Mosa Meat aim to become the first to bring cultured beef to consumers. Mosa Meats was co-founded by Mark Post, MD, Ph.D., chairman of physiology and vice dean of biomedical technology at Maastricht Univ., Netherlands, who organized the first public tasting of a lab-grown hamburger in 2013. Post discussed the technology during the 2015 Institute of Food Technologists meeting and exposition. Google co-founder Sergei Brin provided $330,000 to create the burger.

Memphis Meats plans to produce a calorie of meat from just three calories in inputs. The company said it takes 23 calories in feed to generate one calorie from beef. The company’s products also “will be free of antibiotics, fecal matter, pathogens, and other contaminants found in conventional meat.”