Lab Cultured Meat: Revolutionizing Our Plates
- Lab cultured meat has many advantages over traditionally produced meat for the environment, sustainability and more
- A bioreactor is a fundamental piece of equipment for researching, developing and producing lab cultured meat
- The industry is still in its infancy with lots of potential for growth
What is Cultured Meat?
Lab cultured meat, sometimes called clean meat is a type of meat produced from growing animal cells in a lab rather than meat produced from slaughtering an animal. As the meat is grown under lab conditions, it can be tailored to replicate the flavour and texture of standard meat, without the need to kill any animals.
A key piece of equipment for the research, development and production of lab cultured meat is a bioreactor. In this article, learn more about how lab cultured meat is grown and its potential benefits, along with how bioreactors from Froilabo can improve the production of lab cultured meat.
How is Cultured Meat Grown?
Rather than having to slaughter animals for meat, cultured meat is produced from animal cells which may be obtained from a biobank or from a small biopsy taken from a living animal. The cells are then placed in a bioreactor along with a growth medium that contains salts, proteins and carbohydrates. With carefully controlled conditions (such as temperature and pH), the cells grow to create a collection of muscle tissue.
The earliest iterations of lab cultured meat created a paste-like substance. Although it did not look like a piece of meat or have the same texture, the flavour was very similar. This is why burgers were the first food to be created as clean meat.
Lab cultured meat is becoming more like traditional meat in look and texture as methods and technology improves. Researchers have been growing meat tissue on scaffolds to better replicate the structure of traditional meat, and co-culturing the muscle cells with fat cells to create products that resemble marbled steaks.
Benefits of Clean Meat
Improving animal welfare is a huge benefit of producing lab cultured meat instead of traditionally produced meat. Instead of millions of animals being slaughtered, comparatively, only a small number of animals will need to be kept for tissue samples, and it will not be necessary to kill them for the samples. Initial methods for producing lab cultured meat used fetal bovine serum in the growth medium, however more ethical alternatives have been found or are under development.1
Nutritionally, cultured meat can be enhanced to increase health benefits, or potentially be created to specific dietary needs in the future. As lab cultured meats are grown in sterile environments, this also reduces contamination risk from common foodborne pathogens such as E. coli and salmonella.2
There are many potential environmental benefits to producing lab cultured meat. By reducing the number of cattle for producing beef, methane levels in the atmosphere will be reduced. Less animals being farmed will also result in less land and other resources such as water being used for agriculture. It is estimated that it takes around 15000 litres of water to produce one kilogram of beef, mostly for animal feed.3
However, the full impact of industrial clean meat production is not yet completely understood. Although lab cultured meat is beginning to scale in certain countries such as Singapore, the industry is still in its infancy. We do not know yet have a complete picture of the resource and energy consumption that will be required for large scale cultured meat manufacturing across the globe.
Froilabo Bioreactors for Cultured Meat
Bioreactors are a key piece of equipment for the research, development and production of lab cultured meat.
Meat tissue may be produced in bioreactors, with growth medium added and other nutrients. Bioreactors from Froilabo allowing you complete control over conditions including temperature, pH, pO2 and foam.
The Bioreactor’s peristaltic pumps allow substrates to be added with control over the rate and volume of the addition, saving you from needing to constantly monitor the reactor environment and manually adjust the conditions.
Automated software will not only save you valuable time but give you peace of mind that conditions within the vessel are maintained at pre-set levels, or automatically adjusted if there are any fluctuations. There is no need to manually check conditions within the bioreactor, or risk contamination from opening the vessel. However, if you do need to harvest samples during the cultivation process, you can use the sterilizable sampling port in the base of the vessel.
Optional SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) software makes monitoring, recording, reporting and archiving bioreactor conditions simple so you no longer need pages of notes that risk being damaged or lost. SCADA can also communicate with MATLAB and integrate with other devices such as sensors or balances, controlling several aspects of your cell cultivation in one place.
If you’d like to find out more about how bioreactors from Froilabo can streamline and improve your cell culturing process, contact our sales team today.
- Messmer, T., Klevernic, I., Furquim, C. et al. A serum-free media formulation for cultured meat production supports bovine satellite cell differentiation in the absence of serum starvation. Nat Food, 3, 74–85 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s43016-021-00419-
- Bhat, Z. F., Kumar, S., Fayaz, F., Challenges and benefits over conventional meat production, Journal of Integrative Agriculture, Vol 14, Issue 2, 241-248 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1016/S2095-3119(14)60887-X.
- NFU Online, 2017, Water use and Beef: What we know, Accessed July 2023 https://www.nfuonline.com/updates-and-information/water-use-and-beef-what-we-know/