Animal Aid

First lab-grown burger cooked and eaten

Posted 5 August 2013

The world’s first beef burger made from cells grown in a laboratory has been cooked and eaten at a news conference today (5 August). Created by scientists in the Netherlands at a cost £215,000, the burger has been billed as a more animal-friendly and ecological way of producing meat.

On eating the lab-grown meat, Austrian food researcher Hanni Ruetzler described it as being ‘close to meat, but it's not that juicy. The consistency is perfect… This is meat to me. It's not falling apart.’

Whilst the burger cannot be considered entirely ‘cruelty-free’, as it was grown from the stem cells of a dead cow, the techniques used to create it could potentially mean that meat in the future may be produced without the need for billions of animals to suffer and die in factory farms and slaughterhouses. However, it is still unclear exactly how many ‘donor animals’ will be required to produce industrial quantities of the synthetic meat, or whether a more economically viable process can be developed.

There are two other associated animal exploitation issues: the nature of the medium that is and will be used to grow the stem cells (invariably, serum taken from young calves is used to ‘culture’ such cell lines, even though synthetic, non-animal derived mediums exist). Plus, there are the animal tests related to the development and the safety assessment of such products. The latter tests are carried out for all manner of new drugs, foodstuffs and chemicals – even though the resulting animal data cannot be reliably applied to people.

Said Animal Aid campaigner Ben Martin:

‘Whether lab-grown meat truly is a step forward in reducing the need to farm and slaughter animals remains to be seen. If it does achieve all the scientists claim, then this is welcome news. But in the meantime, adopting a vegan diet remains the only way to ensure no animals have suffered to produce the food you eat.’

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