Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Meet Cultured Meat: how do they make that stuff?


The most plausible method for cultured meat production is called the ‘scaffolding technique.’

 Here's how it works:

#1-  STARTING WITH STARTER CELLS - “Starter” cells from domestic animals such as cows or chickens are harvested through a biopsy and placed in very small cultures. (See Figure 1) 

 #2- SCAFFOLDS- The starter cells need a place to grown on.  These are called scaffolds.  (See Figure 2)  The scaffolds are biodegradable and can be made out of edible material such as collagen beads.

 #3 - STARTER + SCAFFOLD- The starter cells are then placed on the scaffolds (see Figure 3).

#4-  MAKING THE CELLS GROW- The scaffolds containing the cells would then be placed in a special type of vat called a bioreactor.  This is pretty similar to how beer or Quorn (soy chik nuggets) is made.
Once placed inside the bioreactor, the starter cells would be a nutritious (but delicious) soup called a growth medium.  (See Figure 4).   The growth medium contains a special mix of  nutrients which would provide natural ‘environmental cues’ that would tell the cells to grow.  (And they do grow-- it's a good thing that cells are so obedient!)

#5- SKINNY MEAT - The result is actual animal meat, but in the form of ultra-thin sheets of muscle cells.   The thin sheets would be vacuumed packed (see Figure 5)  and sent to a meat processing  facility in order to make a ground meat product, such as a hamburger.

#6 - YOU EAT YOUR BURGER-  I think you already know about this step.  (See Figure 6).

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