The world’s first test-tube burger will be served in London next week. It is made from meat grown in a laboratory, rather than cattle raised in pastures.
And its developers hope it will show how the soaring global demand for protein can be met without the need for vast herds of cattle.
The 5oz ‘Frankenburger’, which cost £250,000 to produce, is made from 3,000 tiny strips of meat grown from the stem cells of a cow.
The raw meat is said to be grey with a slippery texture similar to squid or scallop.
It has been created by Professor Mark Post (right), from the University of Maastricht in Holland.
His research has been funded by an anonymous businessman – who may be the first to try the burger.
A four-step technique is used to turn stem cells from animal flesh into a burger.
First, the stem cells are stripped from the cow’s muscle.
Next, they are incubated in a nutrient broth until they multiply many times over, creating a sticky tissue with the consistency of an undercooked egg.
This ‘wasted muscle’ is then bulked up through the laboratory equivalent of exercise - it is anchored to Velcro and stretched.
Finally, 3,000 strips of the lab-grown meat are minced, and, along with 200 pieces of lab-grown animal fat, formed into a burger.
The process is still lengthy, as well as expensive, but it could take just six weeks from stem cell to supermarket shelf.
His work is funded by the Dutch government, as well as an anonymous donation of 300,000 euros - but it remains to be seen, however, whether the pioneering development will find favor with a public that likes to think of its chops, steaks and sausages as having their roots in nature, rather than in test-tubes.
He first attempts involved mouse burgers. He then tried to grow pork in a dish, producing strips with the rubbery texture of squid or scallops, before settling on beef.
His burger consists of about 20,000 thin strips of cultured muscle tissue. Read more: