Whether it’s bleedable veggie burgers or “beef steak” made from rice, peas, and seaweed, there are plenty of food-tech efforts to re-create the experience of biting into meat, minus the need to kill animals to get it. What do both of these examples have in common? That’s right: No actual meat.
Israeli startup Aleph Farms is taking a different approach. Like the better-known company Memphis Meats, it’s attempting to create lab-grown meat with the same familiar flavor, shape, texture, and structure of the real thing. Aleph’s approach seeks to grow its beef by using natural beef cells isolated from a living cow. These cells are then nourished in a growth medium to develop into a complex matrix that replicates muscle tissue.
“‘Cultured’ or ‘grown’ meat relies on isolating real cells from an animal and replicating them under controlled conditions outside of the animal,” Didier Toubia, co-founder and CEO of Aleph Farms, told Digital Trends. “This improved meat production method saves significant amount of water and land, avoid animal welfare issues and antibiotics use. The main challenge is to reproduce the complexity of a real muscle tissue, which is made of various cells arranged into a very specific 3D structure. Aleph Farms has succeed growing the first beef steak slice in [the] history of humanity.”
As noted, there are plenty of other startups working in this area, all hoping that they have cracked the artificial meat puzzle. However, there is reason to be excited about Aleph’s entry into the market. Working with Toubia is Shulamit Levenberg, a professor at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, who has previously been named one of the world’s 50 leading scientists for her work in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine by Scientific American.
“We realize that 92 percent of Americans and Europeans do eat meat, and the consumption and production of meat continues to rise despite more plant-based products been released on the market,” Toubia continued. “Thus, we believe that the only way to have a real impact is not to launch more plant-based products, but rather to solve the issues with meat production.”
So far, the company says that it has developed a thinly sliced beef steak, which cooks in just a couple of minutes. He said that the team needs at least two more years of development until they can release a commercial and scalable product. At that point, we’ll finally get the mouth-watering “taste off” competition we’ve been hankering after!