Lab-grown meat: first taste “feels like a conventional hamburger”

AP (via Yahoo!) has the first reactions to meat grown in a petri dish rather than on a farm:

Two volunteers who participated in the first public frying of hamburger grown in a lab said Monday that it had the texture of meat but was short of flavor because of the lack of fat.

Mark Post, whose team at Maastricht University in the Netherlands developed the burger, hopes that making meat in labs could eventually help feed the world and fight climate change. That goal is many years distant, at best.

“I would say it’s close to meat. I miss the salt and pepper,” said Austrian nutritionist Hanni Ruetzler, one of the volunteer tasters. Both shunned the bun and sliced tomatoes to concentrate on the meat.

“The absence is the fat, it’s a leanness to it, but the bite feels like a conventional hamburger,” said U.S. journalist Josh Schonwald. He added that he had rarely tasted a hambuger, as he did on Monday, “without ketchup or onions or jalapenos or bacon.”

Monday’s taste test, coming after five years of research, is a key step toward making lab meat a culinary phenomenon. Post called it “a good start.”

“Taste is the least (important) problem since this could be controlled by letting some of the stem cells develop into fat cells,” said Stig Omholt, director of biotechnology at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences.

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