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  • Last modified 6 days ago (Dec. 6, 2018)

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Is ‘fake meat’ for real?

Staff writer

Believe it or not, a push is on to produce “meat” in a laboratory. Memphis Meats of San Francisco and several other start-up companies have succeeded in developing meat using live cells from animals.

These cells usually are fed a bovine serum, a nutrient-rich extract from the blood of unborn calves or slaughtered animals. The cells are fed to grow and produce a product that has essential protein, fat, taste, and texture.

Memphis Meats claims it has found a “kill-free” way of feeding cells.

People who raise animals for food think of cultured meat as “fake” meat, but developers call it “clean” meat because no cattle gas emissions or antibiotics are involved.

Tracy Brunner of Ramona, former president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, said meat is commonly accepted as muscle tissue from a once living animal.

“Cultured imitation animal product does not qualify as meat,” he said.

A preview of articles posted online that promote cultured meat reveals an anti-agriculture bias. Some groups even hope to eliminate cattle as a source of food. Producers of cultured meat call it cell-based meat.

Memphis Meats and the North American Meat Institute sent a letter to President Donald Trump in August requesting clarification on cell-based meat regulations.

“As leaders and partners in meeting the world’s protein needs, we know that large-scale production methods, small-scale farming, and cell-based meat and poultry production methods will all play a role,” the letter stated.

NCBA has accepted the fact that cultured meat will become a reality for consumers in coming years. Even ag industry giants Cargill and Tyson have invested millions in Memphis Meats.

The association’s concern is in how the meat will be labeled to distinguish it from that grown on the hoof.

“The integrity of the food industry and the consumer’s right to know can be protected with truthful labeling,” Brunner said. “In addition to accurate and truthful labels, 100 percent safety equivalent to United States Department of Agriculture standards for real meat must be required. This is of paramount importance to the beef and meat industry.”

Last modified Dec. 6, 2018

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