| English Espanol Português Français
Nederlandse Slovenský 简体中文 繁體中文
Do you have a question that isn't answered here? Write
What is cultured meat?
Cultured meat is meat produced in vitro, in a cell culture,
rather than from an animal. The production of cultured meat
begins by taking a number of cells from a farm animal and
proliferating them in a nutrient-rich medium. Cells are capable
of multiplying so many times in culture that, in theory, a
single cell could be used to produce enough meat to feed the
global population for a year. After the cells are multiplied,
they are attached to a sponge-like "scaffold" and
soaked with nutrients. They may also be mechanically stretched
to increase their size and protein content. The resulting
cells can then be harvested, seasoned, cooked, and consumed
as a boneless, processed meat, such as sausage, hamburger,
or chicken nuggets.
Why would anyone want to make cultured
Cultured meat has the potential to be healthier, safer, less
polluting, and more humane than conventional meat. Fat content
can be more easily controlled. The incidence of foodborne
disease can be significantly reduced, thanks to strict quality
control rules that are impossible to introduce in modern animal
farms, slaughterhouses, or meat packing plants. Inedible animal
structures (bones, respiratory system, digestive system, skin,
and the nervous system) need not be grown. As a result, cultured
meat production should be more efficient than conventional
meat production in its use of energy, land, and water; and
it should produce less waste.
How does cultured meat
Cultured meat contains the same muscle cells that form most
meats. However, there are a number of technical obstacles,
especially regarding texture, that have to be overcome before
cultured meat can be a compelling substitute for conventional
Where can I buy cultured
Cultured meat is not yet commercially available.
When will cultured meat be commercially
Within several years, it may be possible to produce cultured
meat in a processed form, like sausage, hamburger, or chicken
nuggets, with modifications of existing technologies. Producing
unprocessed meats, like steaks or pork chops, would involve
technologies that do not yet exist and that may take a decade
or longer to develop.
Isn't this food unnatural?
Cultured meat is unnatural, in the same way that bread, cheese,
yogurt, and wine are unnatural. All involve processing ingredients
derived from natural sources. Arguably, the production of
cultured meat is less unnatural than raising farm animals
in intensive confinement systems, injecting them with synthetic
hormones, and feeding them artificial diets made up of antibiotics
and animal wastes. At the same time, the conventional production
of meat has led to a number of unnatural problems, including
high rates of ischemic heart disease and foodborne illness,
as well as soil and water pollution from farm animal wastes.
Is cultured meat genetically-modified?
There is nothing in the production of cultured meat that necessarily
involves genetic modification. The cells that can be used
to produce cultured meat are muscle and stem cells from farm
animals. It is possible, however, that genetically-modifying
a muscle cell would allow it to proliferate a greater number
of times in culture, and may thus make cultured meat production
Must animals be killed in the production of cultured meat?"
No. It is possible to take a muscle biopsy from a live farm animal and culture the isolated cells. While some growth media contain animal ingredients, a growing number of media are animal-free.
What is the source of nutrients used in cultured meat production?
In biomedical research, most cell cultures have used media made from animal blood. But researchers have now developed media from a variety of other sources, including plants and microorganisms.
How much will cultured meat cost?
Theoretically, cultured meat could afford higher resource
and labor efficiencies, which could translate into lower costs,
if cultured meat were produced at scale with an affordable
medium. However, it is unlikely that cultured meat will soon
compete with conventional meat in ordinary markets. There
are technologies now found in virtually every household that
originally cost too much for mass acceptance. Only after reductions
in cost by several orders of magnitude were they massproduced.
Who are you?
New Harvest is a nonprofit research organization working to
develop new meat substitutes, including cultured meat. Our
boards are comprised of scientists in biology, agriculture,
public health, and medicine. Read more.
Where can I learn more?
See our resources page.