The growing number of cows on the planet is believed to be behind the rising concentrations of methane in the atmosphere

Israeli scientists create fake beef scaffold

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A group of researchers at Israel Institute of Technology have developed a new scaffold for growing cell-based meat, which volunteers noted for its “meaty flavour and sensorial attributes”.

Cell-based meat (CBM) is grown on a 3D scaffold, which mimics the extracellular matrix supporting the growth of cells in living creatures and enables cultured cells to grow into a meat-like product. Fake meat requires a scaffold which is edible, nutritional and which gives the product a meaty texture.

In this case, the researchers made a scaffold from textured soy protein which helped cultured cells grown into a beef-like product. They “seeded” bovine satellite cells (muscle stem cells) throughout the protein scaffold with various growth factors, where the cells multiplied to cover the scaffold with tissue.

They experimented with various cell combinations, finding that co-culturing with bovine smooth muscle cells and tri-culturing with bovine endothelial cells (which line the interior of blood vessels and lymphatic vessels) creates an enhanced texture which mimicked beef more closely.

According to their Nature Food report, a group of volunteers who tasted the product responded positively, commenting on its “meaty flavour and sensorial attributes” (aroma and texture) which were strongly reminiscent of beef.

The Israel Institute of Technology team concluded that their results may provide some tools for cultured meat to be scaled up to generate alternative and more sustainable sources of protein for humans: “The results presented here represent the potential for cell-based meat to be scaled up, forming new protein sources for human consumption. This would reduce our reliance on animal agriculture and contribute to more sustainable food security.”

Demand for meat alternatives is growing, with many people concerned about climate change seeking ways to consume in a more environmentally conscious way, such as cutting meat and dairy intake. Artificial meat start-ups are attracting enormous investment (including from major players in the meat industry) and popular fast food chains such as Burger King, McDonald’s and KFC have started adding meat-free alternative options to their menus.

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