PoultryUSA - June 2018 - 28
28 ❙ WATTPoultryUSA
lab to table
of a reality
Researchers and startups are
developing ways to grow meat
with minimal involvement from
an animal. How soon might a
product be headed to market?
Dr. Paul Modzizak (left) is a leading researcher in the field of
culturing poultry tissue. Courtesy New Harvest
Growing edible meat products without an animal: It
sounds like something out of science fiction. But, it's
becoming reality as scientists, startups and venture capitalists pour resources into the emerging technology.
While even the most optimistic assessment places
the product years away from the grocery store, the
novelty of the technology is attracting press around the
world as well as the attention of the animal agriculture
business. Already beset by a changing market for their
products and the transition to new animal husbandry
methods, this technology seems like another challenge
for the poultry industry. But, is it?
The state of the art
Right now, the technology exists to yield an edible
meat product - called lab-grown meat, in vitro meat,
cultured meat or clean meat. However, the process is
still far from creating a competitive product.
Dr. Paul Mozdziak, a leading mind in the field of cell
culturing, who's focused on poultry application of the
technology, explained the process. A sample of muscle tissue is collected from an animal, either dead or alive, and
is ground up. The tissue is then treated with enzymes that
digest away myofibril and contractile proteins and release
muscle derived cells. Those cells are placed in a cell culture
dish with a defined cell media or undefined cell media,
which has an animal serum component, so they reconstitute as muscle tissue, or what's being called cultured meat.
Mozdziak, a professor in the Prestage Department
of Poultry Science at North Carolina State University,
said this is not a novel process. What is new is the level
of excitement surrounding the process.
"There's a lot of people out there with ideas and getting money, and there's not been a lot produced to practice
right now," Mozdziak said. "The question is, 'What's the
first product going to be? What's the first product going to
look like? Where is the space going to be in the next two
to three years?' and it could be a very exciting time."
Hurdles to market
The largest technical hurdle may be that the current
process can't yield a product exactly like what's in the
meat case. Meat is made up of more than just muscle
cells. They include connective tissues, blood and fat, too.
www.WATTAgNet.com ❙ June 2018