Juicy Lab-Cultivated Steak
A lab-cultivated steak made from cow cells is being produced by Aleph Farms. It is the world’s first 3D bioprinted juicy ribeye steak, completely cruelty and slaughter-free. Scientists took swabs from two cows, cultivated them in a lab, and pieced them all together to form a replica steak. Aleph Farms says the harvesting of cells is no more painful or invasive than a human doing a cheek swab. Cows that give their cells to the process are not killed, but the product is real meat, posing a conundrum for some vegetarians who choose the diet because of their environmental or animal cruelty concerns. Aleph claims the lab-grown meat offers the same delicious and juicy attributes as an authentic ribeye bought from a butcher. Aleph has created 3D bioprinting technology which allows it to precisely organise various cellular structures on top of one another to form the steaks. The company has two incubators, named Alberto and Gertrude, at its Tel Aviv facility which are named after the two donor cows. Every single steak made by Aleph is technically either from Gertrude or Alberto. The two incubators mimic the conditions inside a cow to produce the most accurate cells possible. Four different cells are created — support cells, fat cells, blood vessel cells and muscle cells — which then become the ‘ink’ in a custom-built 3D bioprinter. Aleph started creating mince meat and chicken nuggets which did not require an abattoir before progressing to more complex forms of meat as it is harder to replicate the vascularity and texture of non-processed cuts. In 2018 it revealed a thin-cut steak which Didier Toubia, CEO of Aleph Farms, described as having 60 – 70 per cent of the taste and flavour of the real thing. This previous version of the meat was not made with the same 3D printing technology as the ribeye. The company believes its new method is a major leap forward towards its dream of creating ‘a more sustainable, equitable and secure world’. Currently, the lab-grown steaks are far more expensive than their organic counterparts due to limitations of resources and expertise, but Aleph hopes to upscale its production in the coming years. Toubia says the thin-cut steak will be available in some high-end restaurants next year. It was previously estimated one thin-cut steak would cost $50.