Not Coming Anytime Soon: Frankenmeat for the Masses

Would-be manufacturing process would cost us $242 a pound

By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff

Posted May 27, 2014 4:16 PM CDT

(Newser) – Hungering for the day when the $330,000 Frankenburger will be available to the unwashed masses? Well hold your breath, because a new study looks at the feasibility of mass-producing so-called "cultured" meat, and the chances of you waking up with a goose egg on your forehead are a lot better than the chances of you getting your mitts on a $5 hamburger that was born in a laboratory anytime soon. As Vox reports, "the basic method here entails taking animal stem cells, nurturing them in a growth medium, and then slowly transferring them as they grow into industrial-size bioreactors."

The researchers say a typical bioreactor could produce "56,438 pounds of meat per year," or enough to feed some 2,560 people—though National Geographic notes that figure is predicated on consumption of about an ounce per human per day; Americans consume about 10 times that. One problem: That "growth medium," which would probably be some sort of blood derived from bovine fetuses, would prove not only controversial but pricey; it's estimated at around $946 a gallon, and a big driver in the ultimate pricetag of lab-produced meat. The damage? About $242 a pound. Head over to Vox for a diagram that better outlines the manufacturing process.

A burger made from cultured beef grown in a laboratory from stem cells is cooked.
A burger made from cultured beef grown in a laboratory from stem cells is cooked.   (AP Photo / David Parry, PA)
A burger made from cultured beef grown in a laboratory from stem cells.
A burger made from cultured beef grown in a laboratory from stem cells.   (AP Photo / David Parry, PA)
American author and journalist Josh Schonwald tastes a burger made from cultured beef grown in a laboratory.
American author and journalist Josh Schonwald tastes a burger made from cultured beef grown in a laboratory.   (AP Photo / David Parry, PA)
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