How is cultured meat made?

carne cultivada

Cultured meat is already a reality in the food sector. In addition to the environmental and animal welfare advantages, several production-related characteristics turn Ethicameat into an ideal and natural product for the entire family.

Cultured meat is the latest food innovation in a world that seeks to combine its diet with the ethical and environmental values of our time. Meat consumption produces serious ecological imbalances that are difficult to mitigate with current consumer demand: 76 grams of protein per person per day, which multiplied by 7.3 billion people results in 202 billion tons of meat per year.

In a healthy and balanced diet, it is recommended that 35% of the calories consumed be in the protein form. But the current system shows signs of over-exploitation, particularly at the environmental level, because intensive livestock farming generates 14.5% of greenhouse gas emissions, in addition to being the main cause of deforestation on the planet due to the cultivation of animal feed and the contamination of aquifers and soil that this practice produces. On the other hand, at a healthy scale, antibiotics supplied to livestock can generate resistance to them in meat consumers. And finally, the slaughter and animal suffering caused by intensive livestock farming is an ethical dilemma.

For all these reasons, the arrival of cultivated meat in the food market has become the ideal solution for all those who are looking for a sustainable alternative from animal origin to meat consumption. Therefore, the production process of cultured meat is based on tissue engineering, a branch of regenerative medicine to repair body tissues or organs. Some examples of this discipline are skin implants.

Although this discipline has existed for years, only today we have the tools to create muscle tissue in large quantities and transform it into food products.

But how does the procedure work?

We choose an animal in perfect physical condition, because of the better its condition, the better will be the final result. Then, we extract a sample of tissue by biopsy, without causing any damage and avoiding its sacrifice. Once the sample is extracted and due to the innocuity of the process, the animal returns to its daily life.

That sample of meat has in its composition muscle tissue, veins, fat, blood… among other elements. Thanks to the different biomedical techniques that exist today, we can isolate the cells that we want, so in this case, we will choose the proteins that those cells could provide us, isolating the muscle cells for our mission. This process is done in a very short space of time, so those extracted tissues are still alive.

This sample is located in a controlled environment of humidity and temperature, so it continues to form tissue through a natural process of cell proliferation, which means that we are going to put these cells in an aqueous environment that has proteins, amino acids, mineral salts and air, among other elements so that they continue to grow and do their function, which is no other than making muscle tissue full of proteins. As a result, if they are then placed in a type of fermenter or bioreactor that simulates the animal’s body, a fat-free muscle mass is obtained if we so choose, without the need to have sacrificed any animal. A type of meat that respects animal welfare, reduces the consumption of natural resources and also has no exposure to pandemics, given that the animals we use to extract the samples are in perfect health and throughout the process have no exposure to viruses or bacteria.

Thanks to this process, leading in Spain by Biotech Foods, the same amount of meat obtained from one pig in one year can be provided with the same amount of meat than 400 pigs, without slaughtering any animal and with the minimum waste of environmental resources.

There is no doubt that the production process of cultured meat is a great step in the fight against climate change, as well as a ‘cruelty-free’ alternative to the consumption of animal meat. When respect for animals and the environment, technological innovation and science collide, the result is Ethicameat.

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