Cell-cultured or lab-grown meat and fish are meat and fish produced in-vitro in laboratories than in the slaughterhouse. It is a form of tissue engineering through which a single cell is cultured to a full-grown loaf of meat. The cell culture methodology for meat was designed with clinical applications in mind. Professor at Maastricht University and founder of Mosa Meat, Dr. Mark Post, was the first to demonstrate the principle of cultured meat in 2013. He created the first burger patty from culturing animal cells. In the early 2000s, academicians tried testing the same processes for fish as a possible sustainable source of protein for astronauts leaving on a four-year mission to Mars.
Benefits of Lab-Grown Meat and Fish
- Lab-grown meat and fish are a great respite for the animal kingdom as we can spare them from our food habits and allow them to live their lives.
- Lab-grown meat and fish retain the microbial quality that preserves them against any microbial contamination.
- Cultured meat and fish effectively control Greenhouse gas emissions compared to traditional practices for poultry, lamb, pork, and beef.
- This novel lab-grown meat and fish production methodology prevent the spread of deadly zoonotic diseases such as Salmonellosis and Tuberculosis. How can we forget Covid-19 from that delicious bat soup rumor?
Federal Regulations for Cell-Cultured Meat and Fish
In March 2019, the US FDA, the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA), and Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) agreed to oversee human food products containing cultured cells from livestock such as fish and poultry. At the same time, the FDA is in charge of overseeing cell collection and culturing and conducting premarket workshops on manufacturing processes. FSIS supervises the harvesting, packaging, and marking of cellular products.
Lab-Grown Meat and Fish Startup Economy
Memphis Meats was born in Berkeley, California. It came up with cell-based meats and poultry products. The food-tech startup eventually introduced and started selling the meats from 2015 onwards. In 2016, the startup developed the world’s first cell-based meatball, followed by poultry in 2017. Bill Gates, Richard Branson, DFJ, Cargill Inc, and Tyson Foods have invested in the company, which raised $17 million in its Series A funding round in 2018.
Headquartered in San Francisco, California, Eat Just started with vegan mayo, plant-based eggs, and other plant-based alternatives to traditionally processed egg products. Later it engaged its food engineers and computational biologists to develop healthier and more sustainable foods, intending to create a food system that makes it simple for people to eat well. In December 2020, the plant-based food-tech startup received the world’s first regulatory approval to market its lab-grown chicken meat as an ingredient in chicken bites in Singapore.
Based in Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel, SuperMeat is a food-tech startup company that produces “meal-ready” lab-grown chicken meat. SuperMeat is yet to go commercial as it considers to be in the developmental stage. However, you can experience their meat at their first test kitchen in the city of Ness Ziona. At the test kitchen, guests can observe the production process while sitting in the middle of a seasonally inspired menu of locally-grown, freshly-sourced dishes prepared by a team of chefs in an open kitchen.
Located in Hong Kong’s Science Park laboratory, Avant Meats is China’s first cell-cultivated meat technology firm. They aim to become a global pioneer in the field of cellular agriculture. In 2019, they unveiled the world’s first cell-based fish maw (dried swim bladder). Avant Meats, to meet local needs, focuses on cultured fish products such as fish maw and sea cucumber, commonly used in Chinese soups and stews with a high market value due to their distinctive, well-publicized health benefits.
Mosa Meat is a Dutch food-tech startup headquartered in Maastricht, Netherlands, that produces cultured meat. Founded by Dr. Mark Post, Mosa Meat aims to introduce cultured meat (also known as “clean meat”) to the mass market to meet better the rising demand for meat, which they believe will reach a critical stage by 2050. They also say that while the process is currently very costly, the price will be the same for a standard beef hamburger in the supermarket over some time.
Initiatives in India
On February 19, 2019, the Maharashtra State Government and the Washington-based NGO Good Food Institute(GFI) signed an MoU to establish a “Centre for Excellence in Cellular Agriculture” in Maharashtra. And on April 25, 2019, the animal welfare organization Humane Society International (HSI) India and Hyderabad’s Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) announced a collaboration to produce lab-grown meat in India. There is a good chance that India will have government-backed plant-based and lab-grown meat and fish by 2022.
Talking about leading by example, CleanMeat is India’s first lab-based meat company to develop harmless, clean and cost-effective meat solutions. It claims to be India’s first cell-cultured meat startup and is presently developing an edible chicken keema texture using chicken cells. Founded in 2018 by Kartik Dixit, Dr. Pawan Dhar, and Dr. Siddharth Manvati, CleanMeat aims at saving the environment from the harmful effects of methane gas.