First reaction: lab-made burger short on flavor

Aug 05, 2013 by Maria Cheng
Mark Post, developer of the stem cell burger, poses before the first public tasting, in London, Monday, Aug. 5, 2013. For hamburgers that cost more than $300,000 to produce, you might expect fries and a shake too. But this is no ordinary burger being served to two volunteer taste-testers in London on Monday. This meat was grown in a laboratory from stem cells of cattle. Mark Post, whose team at Maastricht University in the Netherlands developed the burger after five years of research, hopes that making meat in labs could eventually help solve the food crisis and fight climate change. (AP Photo/Bogdan Maran)

(AP)—They bit, they chewed, but had hoped for more flavor.

Two volunteers who participated in the first public frying of hamburger grown in a lab said Monday that it had the texture of meat but was short of flavor because of the lack of fat.

Mark Post, whose team at Maastricht University in the Netherlands developed the burger, hopes that making meat in labs could eventually help feed the world and fight climate change. That goal is many years distant, at best.

Sergey Brin, a co-founder of Google, appeared on a video shown at the event and announced that he funded the 250,000-euro ($330,000) project because of his concern for animal welfare.

"I would say it's close to meat. I miss the salt and pepper," said Austrian nutritionist Hanni Ruetzler, one of the volunteer tasters. Both shunned the bun and sliced tomatoes to concentrate on the meat.

"The absence is the fat, it's a leanness to it, but the bite feels like a conventional hamburger," said U.S. journalist Josh Schonwald. He added that he had rarely tasted a hambuger, as he did on Monday, "without ketchup or onions or jalapenos or bacon."

Monday's taste test, coming after five years of research, is a key step toward making lab meat a culinary phenomenon. Post called it "a good start."

Brin expressed high hopes for the technology.

"We're trying to create the first cultured beef hamburger. From there I'm optimistic we can really scale by leaps and bounds," he said on the video.

Post said it's crucial that the burger has the "look, feel and taste like the real thing."

Despite the tasters concern about flavor, scientists say that can be tweaked.

"Taste is the least (important) problem since this could be controlled by letting some of the stem cells develop into fat cells," said Stig Omholt, director of biotechnology at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences. Adding fat to the burgers this way would probably be healthier than getting it from naturally chunky cows, Omholt said before Monday's test. He was not involved in the project.

Post and colleagues made the meat from the muscle cells of two organic cows. The cells were put into a nutrient solution to help them develop into muscle tissue, growing into small strands of meat.

It took nearly 20,000 strands to make a single 140-gram (5-ounce) patty, which for Monday's taste test was seasoned with salt, egg powder, breadcrumbs, red beet juice and saffron.

"I'm a vegetarian, but I would be first in line to try this," said Jonathan Garlick, a stem cell researcher at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine in Boston. He has used similar techniques to make human skin but wasn't involved in the burger research.

Experts say new ways of producing meat are needed to satisfy growing carnivorous appetites without exhausting resources. By 2050, the Food and Agriculture Organization predicts global meat consumption will double as more people in developing countries can afford it. Raising animals destined for the dinner table takes up about 70 percent of all agricultural land.

The animal rights group PETA has thrown its support behind the lab-meat initiative.

"As long as there's anybody who's willing to kill a chicken, a cow or a pig to make their meal, we are all for this," said Ingrid Newkirk, PETA's president and co-founder. "Instead of the millions and billions (of animals) being slaughtered now, we could just clone a few cells to make burgers or chops."

Post and his colleagues had tasted the meat in the lab, and he said they cooked a test burger on Sunday.

"The first (lab-made) meat products are going to be very exclusive," said Isha Datar, director of New Harvest, an international nonprofit that promotes meat alternatives. "These burgers won't be in Happy Meals before someone rich and famous is eating them."

Only one patty was used for the taste test, and the testers each took less than half. Post said he would take the leftovers home and let his kids have a taste.

Explore further: Bioengineering study finds two-cell mouse embryos already talking about their future

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BSD
1 / 5 (8) Aug 05, 2013
Two volunteers who participated in the first public frying of hamburger grown in a lab said Monday that it had the texture of meat but was short of flavor because of the lack of fat.


And herein lies the problem,,,,,

No fat, no flavour.
antialias_physorg
4.3 / 5 (3) Aug 05, 2013
Once bough a 'bean cake' substitute for meat from an Asia shop - just to try it out. It had the same issues. They had the texture, color and 'mouth feel' of steak down pat, but it was impossible to get any flavor into it (even by marinating it for prolonged periods of time).
No fat, no flavour.

Growing fat cells in the lab should be easy (compared to muscle cells), though. This won't be the last burger they make, I bet.
Moebius
1.4 / 5 (7) Aug 05, 2013
Fat can be added easily and so can flavor, meat isn't all that flavorful by itself anyway. If they had a real cook the burger would probably taste great.
Torbjorn_Larsson_OM
2 / 5 (4) Aug 05, 2013
No, as the article said the fat is the least of the problems. The main problem is that these are cells grown without a immune system. I suspect they combat bacteria by having the nutrient solution heavy on antibiotics. These are antibiotic burgers with a side of meat (or I will eat them myself =D).

So if antibiotics use was a problem among husbandry (and medicine) before, this will likely make it unmanageable. The industry will run out of antibiotics because of the increased rate of resistance events.

The best way to grow meat is to grow animals. They will fight disease, or if they get sick they will be easily diagnosed.
MP3Car
5 / 5 (1) Aug 05, 2013
Without the beat juice and safron, wonder what color this would have been...
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Aug 05, 2013
Without the beat juice and safron, wonder what color this would have been...

Probably gray (like most meat until the you add nitrite)
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.4 / 5 (9) Aug 05, 2013
No taste? Well just add a little olestra and msg to the printer. And ground chicken feet.
The best way to grow meat is to grow animals
Well why dont we just grow them without heads? PETA should be ok with this.

There are actually headless chicken vids on youtube but I will not post one here. You understand.
Jaeherys
5 / 5 (5) Aug 05, 2013
I suspect they combat bacteria by having the nutrient solution heavy on antibiotics


Antibiotics are used as an added safeguard against bacterial infection but not as a required constituent of the media. I personally do not use antibiotics in any media I prepare, be it M199, RPMI, DMEM, etc. With proper aseptic technique the risk of contamination is minimal. With large scale cell production, as long as you can ensure that your initial culture is bacteria free, you can quite easily produce large quantities of cells without the use of antibiotics.
Gmr
2.1 / 5 (14) Aug 06, 2013
I'm just wondering why we don't come up with aggregating beef-flavored yeast. Still animal protein, can take care of itself, lives on a lot of media... just give it the ability to cough out some collagen (that gel that makes the texture nice in well-stewed beef) and some fat deposition, and bingo!

But that's bio-engineering. And still killing animals. And GMO. So, I guess it's a no-go, but it's the first thing I thought of. Technically, every loaf of yeast-risen bread is mass slaughter.
Ralp
1 / 5 (9) Aug 06, 2013
Yeast aren't animals you tard.
Gmr
2.4 / 5 (14) Aug 06, 2013
Yeast aren't animals you tard.


Eh, they're not plants, and they have a lot more action to them than most fungi. They're eukaryotes that otherwise are single-celled and not standard bacteria. Always referred to them as "animals" back in the day, still carried it over, I guess.

Though the name-calling is far from necessary, and I wonder how much it really affects either the argument, or your position in life.
VendicarE
2.3 / 5 (3) Aug 06, 2013
Does meat have a taste in a burger? I've always found that it was the onions, tomato, mustard and ketchup that provided most of the flavor and the meat just helped things along due to the fat content.

A local restaurant chain has a perfect soy substitute for hamburger. I can't tell the difference in a hamburger. As for Chile I use TVP and it is a perfect substitute. Works OK in spaghetti and soup/stew as well.

mzso
1.6 / 5 (13) Aug 06, 2013
"he funded the 250,000-euro ($330,000) project because of his concern for animal welfare."
Key sentece. PETA Crap foolishness.
Feeding the world, and climate change are just popularistic fairy tails.
Moebius
1.7 / 5 (6) Aug 06, 2013
Only the truly ignorant would say that, let alone think that mzso. We feed beef food that people can eat, that makes sense to you? You need to develop some critical thinking skills before you pass judgement on stuff like climate change and peoples motives.
mzso
1.4 / 5 (11) Aug 06, 2013
Only the truly ignorant would say that, let alone think that mzso. We feed beef food that people can eat, that makes sense to you? You need to develop some critical thinking skills before you pass judgement on stuff like climate change and peoples motives.

So you think that they will stop climate change and hunger/malnourishment with their lame lab-meat?
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (5) Aug 06, 2013
So you think that they will stop climate change
"Cows emit a massive amount of methane through belching, with a lesser amount through flatulence...an amount comparable to the pollution produced by a car in a day.

"Cows contribute 3 percent of Britain's overall greenhouse gas emissions and 25 to 30 percent of its methane...In 2003, the government of New Zealand proposed a flatulence tax"

"Globally, ruminant livestock produce about 80 million metric tons of methane annually, accounting for about 28% of global methane emissions from human-related activities. An adult cow may be a very small source by itself, emitting only 80-110 kgs of methane, but with about 100 million cattle in the U.S. and 1.2 billion large ruminants in the world, ruminants are one of the largest methane sources. In the U.S., cattle emit about 5.5 million metric tons of methane per year into the atmosphere, accounting for 20% of U.S. methane emissions."
mzso
1.3 / 5 (12) Aug 06, 2013
"Cows contribute 3 percent of Britain's overall greenhouse gas emissions and 25 to 30 percent of its methane...In 2003, the government of New Zealand proposed a flatulence tax"


I was doubting their intentions. They're wholly motivated by PETA silliness. And they wont make a replacement cheaper than meat anytime soon, if ever.

A workable solution would be to eat rabbit/chicken meat instead of beef.
VendicarE
1 / 5 (4) Aug 06, 2013
"Feeding the world, and climate change are just popularistic fairy tails." - Mzso

Another global warming denialist who's goal seems to be mass death. In this instance through mass famine.
nowhere
5 / 5 (1) Aug 07, 2013
They're wholly motivated by PETA silliness.

Having morals isn't silliness.

And they wont make a replacement cheaper than meat anytime soon, if ever.

How could you possibly know this? Are the results not worth the time it'll take to develop the tech?

A workable solution would be to eat rabbit/chicken meat instead of beef.

No, rabbit meat is a bad choice.
mzso
1 / 5 (8) Aug 07, 2013
"Feeding the world, and climate change are just popularistic fairy tails." - Mzso

Another global warming denialist who's goal seems to be mass death. In this instance through mass famine.

You're a fool. Can't even read. I was talking about their goals. And you're fooling yourself if you think this expensive crap is of any use.
mzso
1 / 5 (8) Aug 07, 2013
They're wholly motivated by PETA silliness.

Having morals isn't silliness.

And they wont make a replacement cheaper than meat anytime soon, if ever.

How could you possibly know this? Are the results not worth the time it'll take to develop the tech?

A workable solution would be to eat rabbit/chicken meat instead of beef.

No, rabbit meat is a bad choice.


Having silly morals is.

You can know this that it's expensive as hell. Maybe one day. And the lab growing method is expensive and problematic.

"No, rabbit meat is a bad choice"
Really?? Now that a random person said so, without even trying to provide foundation for it, it must be true.
Actually it isn't. It's good meat. They produce a lot less methane relative to body weight.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (3) Aug 07, 2013
they won't make a replacement cheaper
Growing, processing, packaging and shipping under one roof. Cultures fed with waste foodstuffs which don't have to be made palatable to cows. No waste.

Growing meat in vats has to be cheaper than on the hoof.
nowhere
3 / 5 (2) Aug 07, 2013
Having silly morals is.

There is nothing silly about treating animals ethically.

You can know this that it's expensive as hell. Maybe one day. And the lab growing method is expensive and problematic.

Every modern technology was expensive as hell when first conceived.

"No, rabbit meat is a bad choice"
Really?? Now that a random person said so, without even trying to provide foundation for it, it must be true.
Actually it isn't. It's good meat. They produce a lot less methane relative to body weight.

Incorrect.
"Rabbit eaters, if they have no fat from another source—beaver, moose, fish—will develop diarrhea in about a week, with headache, lassitude and vague discomfort. If there are enough rabbits, the people eat till their stomachs are distended; but no matter how much they eat they feel unsatisfied."
rug
1.5 / 5 (8) Aug 07, 2013
"Rabbit eaters, if they have no fat from another source—beaver, moose, fish—will develop diarrhea in about a week, with headache, lassitude and vague discomfort. If there are enough rabbits, the people eat till their stomachs are distended; but no matter how much they eat they feel unsatisfied."


Rabbit is great, but there is a problem. There is no fat on them so when you eat rabbit you need to eat other things as well. This could be veggies and the like. You can't just eat rabbit or you will get protein poising.
mzso
1.6 / 5 (9) Aug 07, 2013
"Rabbit eaters, if they have no fat from another source—beaver, moose, fish—will develop diarrhea in about a week, with headache, lassitude and vague discomfort. If there are enough rabbits, the people eat till their stomachs are distended; but no matter how much they eat they feel unsatisfied."


Rabbit is great, but there is a problem. There is no fat on them so when you eat rabbit you need to eat other things as well. This could be veggies and the like. You can't just eat rabbit or you will get protein poising.

It has some, though not much for sure.
mzso
1 / 5 (10) Aug 07, 2013
There is nothing silly about treating animals ethically.

Nothing WITH, it's silly as a whole. Ethics are arbitrary... I can say that the ethical thing to do is to do whatever with them. It's entirely natural for animals to get eaten.
The PETA crap is just cancerous empathy.

Every modern technology was expensive as hell when first conceived.

Not necessarily. But this has inherent disadvantages. Animals can just graze, and you can slaughter them


Incorrect.
"Rabbit eaters, if they have no fat from another source—beaver, moose, fish—will develop diarrhea in about a week, with headache, lassitude and vague discomfort. If there are enough rabbits, the people eat till their stomachs are distended; but no matter how much they eat they feel unsatisfied."

Not my experience.
Modernmystic
1.7 / 5 (6) Aug 07, 2013
There will be a time in the not too distant future when ALL of our food will be manufactured. It will taste better, it will be better for us, and it might even be adaptable to give us the things our body needs when it hits our system. We do all things more efficiently than nature because we are intentional and nature is not. We are designers and nature wasn't designed.

They will look back at us like we look at cave men when they think of us eating food that came out of the dirt or was once a live animal...my guess is it will disgust them to the point of nausea. Probably like the thought of manufactured food would to some of us.

And YES it will go a long way to solving the hunger/poverty problems it the world. Those are issues of technology, not primarily policy problems.
TheGhostofOtto1923
2 / 5 (4) Aug 07, 2013
ALL of our food will be manufactured. It will taste better, it will be better for us, and it might even be adaptable to give us the things our body needs when it hits our system
Yeah I agree. Most of our food has been selected for quantity and flavor at the expense of quality and nutrition for the 10-20k years we have been domesticating it. It subsequently resembles little the stuff we evolved on. There is a lot of essential nutrition and fiber we simply cannot get from the stuff at krogers.

We can grow all sorts of meat which is illegal to raise or even to hunt, such as bushmeat, which was always a staple during the pleistocene. We should even be able to culture mammoth without actually having to resurrect the species.

This has the potential to reduce poaching of endangered species.
Ethics are arbitrary...
Ethics is not arbitrary. Tabula rasa is DEAD. Tribal dynamics gives us all the ethics we need, and a great deal that we do not.
flounder
1 / 5 (4) Aug 09, 2013
Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Can a test tube hamburger have prions aka mad cow disease BSE ?

Test Tube Hamburger: £250,000 Stem Cell Patty Cooked And Eaten

http://transmissiblespongiformencephalopathy.blogspot.com/2013/08/can-test-tube-hamburger-have-prions-aka.html


Jaeherys
not rated yet Aug 09, 2013
@flounder
That's what a western blot is for plus proper screening of healthy cows.
TransmissionDump
5 / 5 (3) Aug 09, 2013
People
Eating
Tasty
Animals
baudrunner
1.7 / 5 (7) Aug 10, 2013
PETA people are not against eating animals because they are being slaughtered for their meat. They are for the ethical and humane treatment of animals' life cycle from birth to slaughter. If we all ate manufactured cow meat, then that would do away with the need to farm animals, and there would be no beef industry. That would also do away with the need to farm the animals altogether. That's like denying the right of cows to have at least some kind of life, instead making them merely a curiosity to visit at the zoo. What's ethical about that? The necessary reduction of their population in that scenario amounts to genocide. It's a conundrum, if you ask me.
baudrunner
2.1 / 5 (7) Aug 10, 2013
Besides, if God didn't want us to eat meat, he wouldn't have made animals. "To us (sic), it shall be for meat."
adam_russell_9615
5 / 5 (2) Aug 10, 2013
A hamburger is not just muscle. Its also fat and blood.

And there is no guarantee this will ever be viable economically. It might, or it might not. I think many also suppose that the environmental impact is negligible, however you also dont know that.
Gmr
1 / 5 (6) Aug 10, 2013
A hamburger is not just muscle. Its also fat and blood.

And there is no guarantee this will ever be viable economically. It might, or it might not. I think many also suppose that the environmental impact is negligible, however you also dont know that.

So the answer is obvious - we assign the less marbled/less tender cuts of meat to move solar panels to follow the sun, and the more tender cuts of meat to do basic hydraulic pumping to accommodate the solar water heaters and the algae farm that supplies nutrients to the cow muscle. When their work cycle is over, we harvest them and install new choice cuts.

It's win-win!

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