Hampton Creek, the northern California producer of eggless products including mayonnaise and salad dressings, says it’ll be first to market by the end of 2018 with cultured meat and seafood products, also known as clean meat – produced using small amount of animal cells to culture and grow meat, chicken, seafood without the involvement of raising and slaughtering animals.
The company says it’s using plant nutrients to help the animal cells grow in a process that “is over 10x more efficient than the world’s highest volume slaughterhouse,” Hampton Creek founder and CEO Josh Tetrick said in a statement. “All this without confining or slaughtering a single animal and with a fraction of the greenhouse gas emissions and water use.”
“Meat and seafood are primarily a combination of muscle and fat cells. They require nutrients to grow, whether inside an animal or in a clean facility,” says Tetrick. “And the main limiting factor in scaling clean meat has been providing cells with a sustainable and economical source of nutrients required for cell growth. Our methodology of discovery (material isolation, assays, and discovery output) is the same whether we’re finding a plant to replace dairy in butter or a plant to feed cells for clean and sustainable meat and seafood.”
One of clean meat’s most significant achievements is its ability to feed more people more efficiently than we’re doing right now.
“Clean meat is the answer to some really big questions, including both how we feed 9.7 billion people by 2050 and what we do–as a species–about climate change,” says Bruce Friedrich, Executive Director of the Good Food Institute. “Fortunately, the science of growing meat without animal slaughter has been demonstrated. We just need to scale up production and bring down prices to make this product commercially viable for the mass market.”
While controversies seem to be Hampton Creek’s Achilles heel, its strength lies in scaling production lightning fast. With funding from folks like Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin, and Salesforce founder and CEO Marc Benioffit, Hampton Creek had national product placement of its eggless mayonnaise, Just Mayo, in dollar stores, Costco, Safeway, and Kroger, within two years of launching.
If Hampton Creek is able to meet its 2018 deadline and bring clean meat to market, it’ll usher in a momentous new era. This isn’t a plant-based veggie burger or soy chicken nugget – we’re looking at revolutionizing the meat industry as we know it. If companies like Hampton Creek and other clean meat producers like Memphis Meats succeed, the cultured meat industry could displace the livestock industry within a generation. It is to factory farming what factory farming was to traditional farming but with a huge twist — it takes the economies of scale to new heights without the sacrifice of animals or the damage to the environment impossible to separate from the livestock industries.
Clean meat can also help pivot us away from the “post-antibiotic era” the World Health Organization has been warning us about for years. The rise of antibiotics in livestock feed has led to a significant increase in antibiotic-resistant infections including Clostridium Difficile (C. diff), Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), Drug-Resistant Neisseria Gonorrhoeae, Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA), Streptococcus Pneumoniae, and Drug-Resistant Malaria. Antibiotic-resistant infections kill more than 23,000 Americans every year, and that number is only expected to rise if our food system stays the same.
“Our approach will be transparent and unquestionably safe, free of antibiotics and have a much lower risk of foodborne illness,” says Tetrick.
“The right choice will be obvious.”
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