Cultured cell meat: Taking a deeper look

In case you didn’t know, cultured meat is meat produced by vitro cultivation of animal cells, but not from slaughtered animals. It is meat, just not naturally occurring meat. With this, we are going to dig in a little deeper into Memphis Meats, a company based in San Francisco. They are paving the way for what is called “clean meat.”

At Memphis Meats, their mission is to “bring delicious and healthy meat to your table by harvesting it from cells instead of animals. You also can enjoy the meat you love today and feel good about how it’s made because we strive to make it better for you, and for the world.”

The idea started in 2005, then 10 years later in 2015 they launched Memphis Meats. A year later they celebrated the world’s first cell-based meatball, then in 2017 later they celebrated the world’s first cell-based poultry. In the same year, they also got funding from Bill Gates, DFJ, Cargill and Richard Branson, then were able to get on the Inc. Magazine cover. Later on in 2018, they received another investor, Tyson.

Now they make several claims, saying their food is made “from the ground up,” it’s “better for you,” and “better for the world.”

By “from the ground up,” they say, “Cells are the building blocks of all food we consume. We make food by sourcing high quality cells from animals.”

Of the meat being better for you, they say, “By producing meat from the cell level up, we can ensure the highest level of quality.”

About the meat being better for our world, they claim, “We’re making meat that is better for animals, and uses less land, water, energy and food inputs. Our process will produce less waste and dramatically fewer greenhouse gas emissions.”

Now, I have a few questions: How do you know which cells are high quality? If cells divide to create new cells, aren’t they all the same? Can you give this meat a USDA grade, such as select, choice or prime? How would you control how much marbling it has? In regard to giving less greenhouse gas emissions, is it compared to only agriculture or all other industries including agriculture? What machines do you use to make the meat? How would you prevent someone from putting something bad in the meat?

Schiereck is the El Dorado Springs FFA chapter president.

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