What is Clean meat
Clean meat is meat that is obtained through in-vitro culture growth, rather than from living animals. This type of meat is also known by various alternative names, such as “Cultured Meat” “Artificial Meat” “In-vitro Meat” and “Cell-grown meat” to name just a few.
The media components that are the most relevant to us are the growth factors, such as HB-EGF, IGF-I, LIF, basic-FGF, and TGF-β, which are required for the growth, maintenance and differentiation of the cells.
Why Clean Meat?
This emerging new technology is driven by assessments that the present livestock agricultural system will not be able to provide the worldwide demand for meat products, which is estimated to increase by up to 70% by the year 2050. In addition, there is a need to reduce the impact that livestock production, especially of beef, has on the environment and improve animals’ welfare by drastically reducing the number of slaughtered animals. Moreover, it will affect human health by avoiding antibiotics use and lowering risk from food born illnesses.
In 2013 cultured meat was brought to the attention of the general public when Professor Mark Post and his team from Maastricht University presented to the world the first laboratory-grown burger, at an estimated cost of about 330,000 USD. Since then, various companies have managed to significantly reduce the production costs, yet still not enough for commercialization of cultured meat.
A 330,000USD burger. Wanna try one?
Most media that are used to culture muscle cells contain serum, mostly bovine. The serum contains a wide range of components, such as vitamins, fatty acids, amino acid hormones and growth factors, all required for proper cell growth. However, since cultured meat is meant to replace conventional meat products, the culture medium should be devoid of animal-based ingredients. Thus, serum-free media formulations that are being developed, should include serum replacement components, such as insulin, transferrin, and selenium (ITSE), which we also offer.
The cells that are used for this application are adherent cells, which need to attach to a solid surface for their growth, expansion, maturation, and formation of more complex structures. ECM products that we offer, such as the laminin-511 E8 fragment from BioGems, are potential materials for this purpose.
Clean Meat Production Process
Although each of the companies pursuing the production of cultured meat is developing its own propriety technology, they all use an overall similar production process, which comprises the following stages:
- Extracting starter cells from an animal.
- Expansion of the starting cells in a bioreactor up to the desired concentration.
- Changing the culture conditions in order to differentiate the cells into skeletal muscle cells, which fuse into myotubes.
- Seeding the cells onto a scaffold and applying conditions for the maturation of the cells into the desired cell type.
- Harvesting the cells and further processing.
Clean Meat Challenges
The major challenge that the cultured meat technology faces is the scaling up from laboratory set-ups to large-scale industrial production, which will require advances in several critical areas, including culture media, cell lines, scaffolding, and bioreactors.