News from CRIS: Cultivated Meat & Seafood - Technology

October 11, 2021

What is cultivated meat and seafood technology?

Scientists use an emerging branch of biotechnology called cellular agriculture to cultivate meat and seafood (1).
Cellular agriculture replicates the biological cell growth process to create meat and seafood. 

Let's break this concept down. 

Currently, animals are born, they grow, they are slaughtered, and processed for food. While we don't typically think of meat and seafood as "cells" per se, they are cells. All meat and seafood are made up of cells that contain proteins, fats, and other nutrients. 
Cellular agriculture replicates the cell-growth process outside of the animal.  

How will cellular agriculture work? 

  1. Scientists obtain cells from the animals they want to make cultivated meat and seafood from
  2. Scientists put the cells in a bioreactor that may contain scaffolding to provide a matrix for cells to attach to and grow
  3. The cells "feed" off growth media, which includes the nutrients and growth factors needed to promote cell growth
  4. The cultivated meat and seafood are harvested from the bioreactor and ready for processing, distribution, and sale

Where do scientists get the cells?

Currently, researchers and industries are developing cell banks that will contain cells that are optimal for cultivation. 
These cells can be embryonic cells from animal embryos (e.g., chicken eggs for chicken) or satellite cells which are skeletal muscle adult stem cells taken from adult animals (e.g., cells collected from a cow biopsy for beef) (1,2). 
The cell banks will make sure the selected cells are optimal for cultivation. They will consider characteristics like how quickly the cells grow, how they respond to growth media, and the end product's overall taste and consistency (1,2).


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