August 5, 2013

Lab-grown beef: 'Almost' like a burger

Scientists hope that being able to make meat in labs will help combat world hunger and slow climate change.

The Associated Press

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A new Cultured Beef Burger made from beef grown in a laboratory from stem cells of cattle is held by the man who developed the burger, Mark Post of Netherland's Maastricht University, on Monday.

AP

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A new Cultured Beef Burger made from beef grown from stem cells is cooked by chef Richard McGeown during the world's first public tasting event for the food product held in London on Monday.

AP

As for nutritional benefits of cultured meat, the jury is still out. But Boston University's Joan Salge Blake, a registered dietician and the author of "Nutrition & You" believes that it has a potential to be healthier than conventional meat. "If they replace the saturated fats with omega-3 fats, that would be great for our health," she said.

One unknown is still the iron content of cultured meat. Post hasn't tested his burger for this nutrient, and it's possible that it doesn't contain any heme iron. That's something for the Dutch scientist to work on.

Another challenge is what many call the "yuck" factor. Cultured meat has already been dubbed "Franken-meat" or even "schmeat," though it sounded appealing in particular to those who oppose using animals for food.

"As long as there's anybody who's willing to kill a chicken, a cow or a pig to make their meal, we are all for this," Ingrid Newkirk, president and co-founder of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the animal rights group, told the Associated Press. "Instead of the millions and billions [of animals)]being slaughtered now, we could just clone a few cells to make burgers or chops."

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