Lab-grown steaks could soon be on British menus after Israeli start-up becomes the first firm to apply for permission to sell cultivated meat in the UK
- Steaks are cultivated from a single batch of cells taken from a cow in California
- Takes about four weeks for the Israeli firm Aleph Farms to grow each slab of beef
British restaurants could be one step closer to featuring sizzling lab-grown steaks on their menus.
Israeli firm Aleph Farms is believed to have become the first to apply for regulatory approval from the UK’s Food Standards Agency.
Each slab of beef, which takes around four weeks to grow, is cultivated from a single batch of cells taken from a cow in California.
Though it takes two years on average to get approval, the company is planning to begin production in the UK within the next few years.
A decade has now passed since the world’s first cultivated beef burger – created from cells taken from an animal and grown in a lab – was first unveiled.
Fake meat: British restaurants could be one step closer to featuring sizzling lab-grown steaks on their menus. Pictured is a cultivated rib-eye steak produced by the Israeli firm Aleph Farms
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But while the technology has raced ahead, the industry is still hampered in its struggle to gain regulatory approval.
US start-up GOOD Meat became the first company in the world to sell lab-grown chicken after it was given the go-ahead in Singapore in 2020.
It took a further three years however before it was able to introduce it to the firm’s home country in June.
No lab-grown meat is available yet in the UK, with industry figures warning that tight regulation is proving the biggest obstacle.
British investment in the industry has soared in recent years, with the market expected to make up almost a quarter of global meat consumption by 2035.
Aleph’s first cut, the ‘Petit Steak’, was taken from a premium Black Angus cow named Lucy, who was bred in California.
All the technology needs is a one-time collection of the cow’s fertilised eggs to grow what it claims are ‘high-quality, tasty, and nutritious’ steaks.
Growing the steaks takes around four weeks and, once at scale, the firm expects to grow thousands of tons of steak from this single collection of cells.
Didier Toubia, chief executive of Aleph, said: ‘We believe the UK will take a couple of years, but the potential is huge.’
Aleph plans to begin production in the UK in the next few years and is in talks with potential commercial partners, he said.
It is unlikely to be sooner however as the FSA said most product applications took around two years on average to complete.
Each slab of beef, which takes around four weeks to grow, is cultivated from a single batch of cells taken from a cow in California
Though it takes two years on average to get approval, Aleph Farms is planning to begin production in the UK within the next few years
How it works: All the technology needs is a one-time collection of a cow’s fertilised eggs to grow what it claims are ‘high-quality, tasty, and nutritious’ steaks. Cells are extracted and then grown in a lab over a period of about 3 to 4 weeks
The firm applied to the FSA on July 21 – shortly after it also submitted one in Switzerland, the first such filing in Europe.
Since Brexit, Britain has begun reviewing the way it authorises novel foods – products that have not previously been eaten by humans.
The regime in the European Union had been criticised for being too complex and lacking transparency.
Over £2bn has been invested in the industry ever since Dutch scientist Mark Post unveiled the first cultivated meat burger on live television in 2013.
A recent study suggested lab-grown meat could decrease climate emissions by up to 92 per cent compared to conventional beef.
Over 150 companies on 6 continents are trying to develop their own version, with around 50 per cent based in Europe.
Investment in the UK soared by 400 per cent last year – making Britain the number one nation in Europe for funding the technology.
Lab-grown meat is up to 25 times WORSE for the climate than beef, study claims
Lab-grown meat has been touted as a way to save the planet, but a study earlier this year suggested its green credentials are not as solid as many believe.
Researchers have revealed that lab-grown or ‘cultured’ meat, produced by cultivating animal cells, is up to 25 times worse for the climate than real beef.
Lab-grown meat is set to become more ubiquitous in the next 10 years, transforming from a niche concept to a common fridge staple (file photo) – but a study says the industry could have a huge carbon footprint once it takes off
Production of real meat has a huge carbon footprint because it requires water, feed and the clearing of trees to make way for cattle.
Despite this, experts say the carbon footprint of lab-grown meat could be ‘orders of magnitude higher’ once the industry grows.
Although lab-grown meat is yet to hit the shops, British scientists are among those growing meat products in a lab with a view to commercialise them.
Read more here.
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