Lab-grown beef burger, the debate starts
Published:  06 August, 2013

Yesterday tasters claimed the world’s first synthetic beef burger resembled meat, yet its absence of fat was noticeable.

The £250,000 burger was sampled by food writer Josh Schonwald and food scientist Hanni Rutzler and fried by its creator Professor Mark Post of Maastricht University.

Both Schonwald and Rutzler remarked the absence of fat and seasoning, but Rutzler claimed it tasted like meat, rather than a vegetable substitute.

Post's interest in lab-grown meat followed fears over food shortages and the environmental impacts of extensive livestock production. He explained that the scientists behind the cultured burger hoped synthetic meat could be the answer to the major problems regarding meat production.

It was also unveiled yesterday that the co-founder of Google Sergey Brin has supported the project. Brin said in a YouTube video: “There are basically three things that can happen going forward. One is that we all become vegetarian. I don’t think that’s really likely. The second is we ignore the issues and that leads to continued environmental harm, and the third option is we do something new.”

Industry sceptics

Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) highlighted the importance of not knowing the impacts on the burger – both on the environment and health.

QMS chairman Jim McLaren said: “There are also a huge number of unknowns about this technology, such as the environmental impact of this type of production system – in sharp contrast to the top-quality natural meat our farmers take pride in producing in Scotland.

“Naturally-produced red meat is also an important source of protein, vitamins, minerals and iron, and our extensive grass and forage-based beef and lamb production systems lead to a higher content of essential fatty acids such as Omega 3.”

Meanwhile, Eblex stated yesterday that there was a certain “yuck” factor involved.

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