Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, Accepted Article.
Cultured meat is an emerging technology with the potential to solve huge challenges related to the environmental, ethical and health implications of conventional meat production. Whilst establishing the basic science of cultured meat has been the primary focus of the last decade, it is now feasible that cultured meat products will enter the market within the next three to four years. This proximity to market introduction demands an evaluation of aspects of the cultured meat production process that have not yet been outlined or discussed in significant detail. For example, one technological approach for production of cultured meat utilizes adult muscle stem cells, the limited proliferative capacity of which necessitates repeated collection of tissue samples via biopsies of living donor animals. A key bottleneck in the cultured meat production process; the selection of donor animals and the details of biopsy processes themselves must be optimized. The number of stem cells harvested from a biopsy, together with their proliferative capacity, determine a ‘multiplicity factor’ achieved by a cultured meat production process, thus dictating the reduction in number of animals required to produce a given quantity of meat. This Perspective considers potential scenarios for these critical upstream steps, focusing on the production of cultured beef as an example. Considerations related to donor selection and details of the biopsy process are discussed in detail. Practicalities of various scenarios for cultured beef production, health of donor animals, and regulatory issues associated with the safety of cultured meat for consumers are also considered.
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