Brazilian scientists became part of a very restricted group of researchers who produce meat in the laboratory.
The scientists work with stem cells extracted from beef. Under the microscope, they are seen in a leaf-like shape. In the laboratory, cells receive nutrients that multiply.
“We need to provide them with a nutritive medium similar to what happens in the animal’s organism. So, we supplement these mediums, this liquid content in which they will be immersed, with amino acids, vitamins, proteins, sugars, a composition there that we make it very necessary for cell growth”, explains food engineer Tatiana Nery.
- ‘Do you know what it’s like to cry from hunger? I know’, says mother of 4 who lives in BH; population in extreme poverty exceeds 3 million in Minas
The same proteins contained in meat are found in cells, the researchers say, and it is not necessary to slaughter a large number of animals to extract the cellular material.
“We can produce an indefinite amount of protein with a small volume of cells”, says Tatiana Nery.
To speed up multiplication, the cells are taken to a bioreactor, where they stay for four or five days. When the researchers have the necessary amount of cells to make a small slice of meat, the third step of the process begins.
The product needs to take shape, look like the meat we know. On the computer, the team defines the structure, format and size of the part that will be produced, and the technology allows for many possibilities.
This time the 3D printer will create a piece similar to a slice of meat with a layer of fat around the edges. The cells are combined with edible biomaterials that will form the solid part of the lab meat. In research, it is being used a chitosan-based product, extracted from shrimp shells. The red that imitates the meat’s natural color comes from natural dyesbut what about the taste?
“We are going to use different ingredients of natural origin to imitate the flavor of the meat. today they are already used in different foods available for our consumption, and for that we need to carry out a series of tests in the laboratory so that we can get as close as possible to this flavor and texture of the meat”, explains materials engineer Joasiane Dantas.
The meat produced not yet being consumed even in tests. For the time being, Brazil does not have regulations for the consumption of this product, unlike Singapore, which has already approved the sale of laboratory chicken meat.
In Japan and Israel, research is also more advanced.
The technology director of SENAI CIMATEC, Leoni Andrade, says that the intention is not to replace the real meat, mainly beef, of which Brazil is the largest exporter in the world. But yes offer one more alternative to the market.
“Even before we have 100% of the technology mastered, we are already looking to interact with industry and companies so that, together with them, we can carry out these final stages of development so that our partners and customers can soon put them on the market”