Lab-grown meat is making its way into the consumer market after a new restaurant opened in Tel Aviv that is offering customers chicken burgers made from “cultured chicken meat.” The restaurant, which is called The Chicken, sits adjacent to a pilot plant where a startup by the name of SuperMeat is producing chicken that is grown from cells in a bioreactor.
Rather than pay for the meals, diners at the restaurant are simply asked to give feedback on lab-grown chicken as the startup prepares for large-scale production of the food that it believes will transform the meat industry.
Thus far, the feedback has been positive. “The burger has a juicy chicken flavor, crispy on the outside and tender on the inside,” says Ido Savir, CEO of the startup. “Feedback from multiple tasting panels was consistent that it was indistinguishable from conventionally manufactured chicken, and simply a great-tasting chicken burger.”
For the past three years, SuperMeat has been developing a manufacturing process that can be scaled up and is working to create the optimal conditions for taking cells from animals and growing the meat without the animals themselves.
“Our production platform is based on avian stem cells that possess the innate ability to multiply indefinitely, eliminating the need to go back to the animal to produce more meat, essentially removing animals from the equation,” says Savir.
One of the big benefits of cellular agriculture is that it could eliminate the demand for traditional agriculture, which involves some dirty practices such as stuffing chickens in overcrowded factory farms. These cruel living conditions often lead to the overuse of antibiotics and could lead to the next deadly pandemic by spreading a virus from animals to humans.
With lab-grown chicken, no real chickens will be involved at all. The idea of eating meat grown in a lab might be off-putting right now, but as the product slowly makes its way into the consumer market and the benefits of it become more clear, we can reasonably expect opinions to change about the product.