China’s First Lab-Grown Meat Created by Researchers

By Rakini Bergundy, November 27, 2019

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How much do you think about the meat you eat? Do you think about where it was sourced or even what type of meat is in that mishmash of a chicken nugget? If you’re trying to be more ethical but want to stay carnivorous, perhaps cultured meat would interest you, dear reader. 

A research team at the Nanjing Agricultural University has produced China’s first cultured meat, grown from pig muscle stem cells. The stem cells taken were cultivated for 20 days and multiplied dramatically into primitive muscle fibers to become a 5-gram piece of meat.

The main reasons for ‘growing’ meat by cell culture include ethics and the environment. Cultivating meat in labs is a cruelty-free approach, and theoretically, greenhouse gas emissions could be cut substantially since livestock accounts for 14.5% of these emissions. The success of this experiment “set a milestone in the domestic artificial-meat field” as reported by Jiangsu Now, a government news agency. 

Zhou Guanghong and the cultured meat. Image via Jiangsu Now

Zhou Guanghong, lead researcher and professor at Nanjing Agricultural University,  said “cultured meat is similar to real pork in terms of physical properties, such as color and texture.” Despite the physical similarities, commercial production of cultured meat products will still require rigorous rounds of reviews by regulators.

Cultured meat has already been in the works for the past few years by companies like Memphis Meats, SuperMeat and Meatable. Earlier in March, Just Meat, a San Francisco-based company, had their cultured chicken nuggets featured on Cnet. The chicken takes around two weeks to grow in a bioreactor, and still needs to go under regulatory approval in the US before hitting shelves. 

In 2017, China signed a trade agreement with Israel to import lab-grown meats from SuperMeat, Future Meat Technologies and Meat the Future. The move was part of China’s ongoing effort to address its most pressing environmental problems as reported by Futurism

READ MORE: First-Ever Plant-Based 'Meat' Moon Cakes Launching in China

[Cover image via Yicai Global]

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