If the only thing getting in the way of your fully enjoying any given bucket of fried chicken is the thought of how it got there, a San Francisco start-up may have the solution.
Memphis Meats is one of several biotech companies trying to develop commercially available in vitro meat with all the flavour, texture and nutrition of real meat – without the real meat consequences.
By culturing regenerative stem cells from birds and placing them in bioreactor tanks, then culturing them in a sugar and mineral solution (don’t ask us), the scientists say they have successfully produced the very first “clean meat” poultry grown from cells in a lab.
The result? A ‘classic’ southern fried chicken and a duck a l’orange – cruelty-free.
“It is thrilling to introduce the first chicken and duck that didn’t require raising animals,” said Dr Uma Valeti, co-founder and CEO of Memphis Meats. “This is a historic moment for the clean meat movement.”
Chicken is the most commonly consumed protein in the United States, with the average person eating 40 kilograms (90 pounds) of chicken a year. This builds to an annual $90 billion domestic market.
“We really believe this is a significant technological leap for humanity, and an incredible business opportunity – to transform a giant global industry while contributing to solving some of the most urgent sustainability issues of our time,” said Valeti.
Most importantly (depending on who you ask, we suppose), the faux-meat apparently tasted pretty good.
"The duck was rich, juicy, and savory," Emily Byrd from the Good Food Institute, who tasted the cultured poultry, told The Telegraph.
"The mouthfeel was superb and tender. It was incredible to be eating the best duck of my life and know that it was produced in a way that is astronomically better for the planet, public health, and animals."
When it came to the chicken, Byrd claimed: “I was able to taste the future.”
“Clean meat is 100 percent real meat, so it tasted just like, well, what it was."
Start-ups like Memphis Meats predict cultured meat will be commercially available within the next five to 10 years, and research suggests Americans are already warming to the idea. In fact, a study published in PLOS One just last month found that 65 percent of the US-based survey participants said they would try the new-age innovation.
Bon appétit, indeed.