Lab-cultured hamburger costs $300,000

New York, July 14 (IANS) Ever heard of a hamburger that costs $300,000? Well, scientists have cultured one in the lab and spent $300,000 while making it.

Interestingly, this is one “non-veg” burger for which no animal was killed, as the scientists used stem cells from a cow to grow beef in the lab.

And how would such an expensive burger taste? Scientists are now working on its taste, texture and colour and are confident that their produce would one day come out in the market at affordable costs.

Mark J. Post, professor of vascular physiology and tissue engineering, Maastricht University in the Netherlands, is confident that the recipe for his cultured hamburger will not only come down in price but someday make it to the market.

He presented the results at IFT15 hosted by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) in Chicago recently.

“It’s realistic that we can do this,” said Post, who is refining what he already sees as a patty consistent in look, texture and colour to a traditional ground beef burger but lacking in taste.

Using the stem cells from a cow to grow muscle fibre shaped like a donut, Post and his team created what looks like a hamburger patty but missing the fat content that gives it flavour and taste.

He is redesigning models and cell sources to create tasty fat content for his burger and even offered it up for a taste test to celebrity chefs and tasters in London in 2013 who, to his relief, did not reject it outright.

“We are starting a company to do this. Initially, it’s going to be a very expensive product but given there is a hamburger in one restaurant for $450, there is a market for them,” Post said.

He said he plans to launch the company this year.

A Guardian readership survey, and later an independent survey in the Netherlands, found more than 60 percent of consumers surveyed said they would buy and eat a cultured burger.

Post was confident that early adapters of the lab-produced burgers will urge others to consider the cultured burger and perhaps even overcome any concerns over its origin, be it natural or unnatural.

“We eat livestock beef because we like it. Once you have alternatives, you can no longer do that. Eventually, the ethical dilemma will be for cultured beef versus livestock beef,” Post said.

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