Ovens

The Cost of a Lab-Grown Burger Has Fallen by 99.9%

Don't have a cow, man.

Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission.

A test-tube 'burg is now cheaper than most meals at Five Guys.

In 2013, researchers at Maastricht University announced that they had successfully created a hamburger made entirely out of lab-grown beef. At the time, concocting the faux-burger cost around $325,000—a sum that added an unsavory note to an otherwise remarkable feat.

"From a small piece of muscle you can produce 10,000 kilos of meat."

But recently, Dutch professor Mark Post told ABC news that the estimate had since dropped to around $11 a patty, or $80 per kilogram. "From a small piece of muscle you can produce 10,000 kilos of meat," he explained.

The process involves extracting the cells that repair muscle tissue from cows and placing them in a container with something appetizingly called "fetal calf serum." After the calf serum's nutrients are reduced, the cells begin to produce protein.


RELATED: Why We're Eating Less Beef, and Why It's a Good Thing


Obviously, the most important question is, "how does it taste?"

Well, when the burger was unveiled in 2013, the taste test results were less-than-glowing. "The absence is the fat, it's a leanness to it, but the bite feels like a conventional hamburger," said food authour Josh Schonwald, who was one of the first people to taste the lab-grown beef.

Still, there's hope that the taste can be improved simply by allowing some of the stem cells to develop into fat cells, which would give the meat a more juicy, robust flavor.

Long-term, commercially viable production of this stuff is still relatively far off.

If you're hoping to see animal-free meat in your grocer's butcher shop sometime soon, you may want to curb your expectations. Long-term, commercially viable production of this stuff is still relatively far off.

"I do think that in 20, 30 years from now we will have a viable industry producing alternative beef," Post said.

But even if we're still a few decades away from mass-produced test-tube beef, there's no denying its potential impact on the environment, our health, and world hunger.

Up next