Lab-Grown Chicken Strips Could Change the Meat Industry Forever

If these innovative food startups get their way, the days of the slaughterhouse may be over.
Lab-Grown Chicken Strips Could Change the Meat Industry Forever
Image credit: Memphis Meats
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For decades, there have been concerns about the environmental impact of and the treatment of animals in the $200 billion American meat industry. Two startups are looking to shake things up.

Bay Area company Memphis Meats and Netherlands-based Mosa Meats have made it their goal to replace farm animals with meat grown from self-producing cells. The cell-produced meats are created in stainless steel bioreactor tanks, and the companies have labeled these products as “clean meat,” which could essentially revolutionize the meat market.

Related: Challenges Faced By Food Tech Startups

Scientists from these companies have already created beef products including a burger and a meatball grown from bovine cells. But yesterday, Memphis Meats for the first time tested lab-grown chicken strips with a group of consumers, and responses were positive. In fact, most testers said they would eat the breaded, deep fried chicken strips again.

Adding chicken to the list of cell-produced meats is a major feat. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, each American consumed an average of 90.9 pounds of chicken in 2016 -- almost the same amount of beef and pork combined.

Besides not having to raise then slaughter animals, this lab-grown meat concept has a major environmental advantage as well. The companies argue that the technique avoids any “costs of grain, water and waste disposal of livestock,” The Wall Street Journal reports.

Related: Finding Innovative Ideas in Unexpected Places

“We expect our products to be better for the environment (requiring up to 90 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions, land and water than conventionally-produced meat), the animals and public health,” reads the Memphis Meats’ website.

When Memphis Meats released its cell-produced meatball for the first time, it had cost $18,000 a pound to produce. The company has since drive down costs. Using its current technology, Memphis Meats estimates it can produce one pound of chicken for less than $9,000. To compete with the big guys, the company continues to seek ways to lower costs.

Memphis Meats hopes to sell its cell-produced meat products by 2021.

Edition: March 2017

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