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Lab Grown Burger Finally Gets Tasted

Update Date: Aug 05, 2013 12:43 PM EDT
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Back in early May, Dutch scientists proposed a $325,000 burger that would be created through a test tube using stem cells. The burger, which is ridiculously priced, has finally been tasted at an event in London, the United Kingdom. The burger meat was pan fried by chef Richard McGeown and offered to two volunteers. Based on the taste buds of Josh Schonwald, an American food author and Hanni Reutzler, an Austrian food researcher, the burger could use a little bit more seasoning.

"I was expecting the texture to be more soft...I know there is no fat in it so I didn't know how juicy it would be," Reutzler commented according to USA Today. "It's close to meat. It's not that juicy. The consistency is perfect."

For the other critic, Schonwald, he added, "the absence is the fat, it's a leanness to it, but the bite feels like a conventional hamburger."

The burger meat was created by a Dutch team of scientists headed by professor Mark Post from the University of Maastricht after five long years of dedicated research. The burger is made by extracting cells from the muscle tissue of a cow. The cells are then cultured in the lab where the scientists manipulated how the cells grew. After three weeks, the researchers had over one million stem cells, which were then separated into smaller sections where they became small strips of muscle. For one five-ounce patty, the researchers stated that there were over 20,000 strands of muscle tissue involved. The researchers are aiming to develop a better and more efficient way of using these cells to create sustainable food.

The researchers hope that after perfecting this technique, this type of meat could be the answer for several problems that the global community faces. First, it could provide a more reliable source of food. Due to climate changes, agriculture and farming could be greatly affected, which could lower the supply for meat resulting in higher costs for consumers. Second, this type of meat could also cut down on the risk of death or illness from consuming tainted meat. Due to these larger goals, the researchers stated that for now, the taste is not one of their major concerns.

"Taste is the least [important] problem since this could be controlled by letting some of the stem cells develop into fat cells," said Stig Omholt, director of biotechnology at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences. Omholt was not a part of the study, but believes that coaxing some cells to turn into fat could be even healthier than the fat that already exist in meat products today.

Thus, even though the burger might not have passed the taste test today, it still promises numerous possibilities in the future. 

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