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THE MEAT FACTORY: World’s first lab-meat facility opens, gears up for 2022 launch

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Future Meat Technologies is already within reach of cost parity with traditional agriculture after just three years is a pretty astonishing achievement.

ELAINE WATSON: “Cultured meat technology is the Apollo program of the 21st century,” ​Nahmias, a professor of bioengineering at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who says Future Meat is currently in the process of approving its production facility in Rohovet, Israel, with regulatory agencies in multiple territories and “is eyeing several locations in the United States”​ for its projected expansion…

Prof. Nahmias points out that the conventional meat industry has had somewhat longer than the nascent cell-cultured meat industry to build efficiencies and economies of scale, making the fact Future Meat Technologies​​ is already “within reach of cost parity with traditional agriculture” ​after just three years a pretty astonishing achievement. It required massive efforts of biologists, chemists, engineers and food experts to reduce the cost of cultured meat by over 1,000-fold in just a few years…

The first commercial products from Future Meat, which has raised around $43m to date from backers including Tyson Foods, ADM Ventures and S2G Ventures, will likely be a combination of 45-60% cell cultured chicken and lamb and 40-55% plant protein and water, Prof Nahmias said…

While growing meat from cells in bioreactors instead of living breathing animals should logically be more efficient, as resources are spent on growing only the cells that make up the meat product rather than keeping an animal alive, no one has yet produced cell-cultured meat on an industrial scale.

However, Future Meat has made significant progress on achieving higher-density cell cultures and more efficient use of media via a proprietary system that allows for media recycling with a dialyzer that filters out toxic metabolites and replenishes nutrients, claimed Prof. Nahmias, who said the new facility can produce cultured chicken, pork, and lamb, without the use of animal serum or genetic modification, with beef coming soon…

“We don’t believe 100% cell-cultured​ [whole cut] products are commercially viable as muscle contains both cells and an extracellular matrix scaffold. Cellular agriculture can produce cells but requires an edible scaffold to be added either before or after the cell harvest. Thus, all products discussed to date by all leading companies appear to be a blend of plant-based scaffolds and cell-based meat.”​

Asked how these products will be constructed, he said: “We can produce whole cuts of meat including chicken breast and chops without using tissue engineered scaffolds. Co-culturing and scaffolds require weeks to assemble and take an inordinate amount of nutrients during that step to form tiny pieces of tissue. This results in a $20,000 steak that is not commercially viable…

Supporters of cell-cultured meat claim it is better for animals and the environment, but also offer other advantages over traditional meat in that it does not contain bacterial pathogens that pose food safety risks and may have a longer shelf life. Also, they say, it will not suffer from price/supply volatility risks from animal infectious diseases (avian flu, porcine epidemic diarrheal virus); it requires fewer inputs for a given quantity of meat; and is more controllable and tunable​,​ enabling production of only high-grade meats in quantities dictated by consumer demand, rather than by the biology of the animal…

In the US, the USDA and the FDA have outlined a regulatory framework​​​ for foods containing cultured meat and seafood cells (which has yet to be finalized), but have not yet nailed down what to call such products on food labels, although several players are now gearing up for a commercial launch here. Singapore is the first place to permit cell-cultured meat, recently approving products manufactured by San Francisco-based Eat Just. SOURCE…

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