Iowa Public Television


Beef from a Test Tube Faces Taste Panel

posted on August 9, 2013

Dutch scientists served up their creation of a hamburger this week made in a laboratory from cow stem cells.

The public unveiling took place in London. Volunteers took the taste test and offered up a review of the product that took five years to develop.

Mark Post, Professor of Physiology, Maastricht University: "Considering that we don't have any fat in there yet, so obviously that's a factor that affects taste, but other than that the consistency and the taste is, in my mind, pretty close."

Hanni Ruetzler, Austrian nutritionist: "There's quite an intense taste, it's close to meat. It's not that juicy but the consistency is perfect."

Josh Schonwald, U.S. journalist: "The absence is I feel, like, the fat. But the bite feels like a conventional hamburger."

As one of the lead researchers on the project at Maastricht University in the Netherlands, Mark Post developed the burger, and he hopes synthetic meat could eventually help feed the world and fight climate change.

Mark Post, Professor of Physiology, Maastricht University: "I think that most people don't realise that the current meat production is at its maximum and is not going to supply sufficient meat for the growing demand in the coming 40 years. So we need to come up with an alternative, there's no question. And this can be an ethical and environmentally friendly way to produce meat."

The public frying of the hamburger grown in the lab also spurred debate.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals or PETA, a long-time opponent of confinement style agriculture, agrees this research has promise.

Ben Williamson, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) spokesman: "Today's meat industry causes enormous animal suffering, and environmental damage, and if in vitro technology can be kinder to animals, be kinder to the planet, help alleviate world hunger and make the food supply safer then surely that's something everyone would support."

 The taste tube burger’s price tag is hard to swallow. At $300,000, one could expect fries and a shake with the culinary creation.

London residents were mixed on the development.

London resident: "Test tube meat is wrong, it's not right. These things shouldn't be going on. It's really, really disgusting, it's horrible, it's unnatural, it's not organic and it's poison basically."

London resident: "I think it's great because I don't think people should be eating meat. I would eat artificial meat."

Tags: beef food safety hamburger health Holland London Maastricht University Mark Post news PETA Test Tube Beef