For the first time, laboratory grown hamburger meat was cooked and eaten, during a demonstration in London on Monday. So, what did the taste testers think? Well, they agreed that it had a pleasant texture, but it was lacking a distinctive something.
Although it was cooked by chef Richard McGeown, and seasoned with egg powder, red beet juice, saffron, salt and breadcrumbs, the tasters still felt that something distinctly “burger-ish” was missing.
Austrian nutritionist, Hanni Ruetzler, said that she missed salt and pepper. While another tester, Josh Schonwald, a US journalist, confessed that he had trouble judging a burger without onions, bacon, ketchup or jalapenos. Neither of the testers chose to add the sliced tomatoes, lettuce or bun that were offered; they wanted to be able to pay more attention to the meat’s flavor.
Mark Post is the Dutch scientist that led the team that used cattle stem cells to grow the meat. He said that aged gouda cheese would have made the whole experience much better; however, he was pleased with the reviews so far.
It has taken five years to get the burger to this stage, and the team is hoping that this would be a way to fight climate change and feed the world in just a couple of decades. In fact, Isha Datar, the director of New Harvest, which is an international non-profit organization that works to find alternatives to meat, has said that at first, lab created meat products will likely be extremely exclusive. The first people to eat them will be the rich and famous of the world.
One of Google’s co-founders, Sergey Brin, announced that he was the financier of the $330,000 project because he was worried about the welfare of animals.
Scientists have said that it probably won’t be difficult to improve the taste, and have said that taste is the smallest issue since it will probably only require allowing some fat to grow from some of the fat cells. It is also thought that adding fat to burgers in this way is likely going to be healthier than getting the flavorful fat from naturally fatty cows.
The stem cells came from shoulder muscle cells that belonged to two separate cows that had been raised organically. Then, the muscle cells were added to a nutrient solution that helped them develop into muscle tissue, which then grew into smaller strands of meat.
While it may be a couple decades before the meat is available to the masses, researchers and animal rights groups are thrilled with the results so far, and find the lab-burger a promising first step.