Pork: From Petri Dish To Dinner Plate?


Photo by Barry Estabrook

A Dutch physiologist has become the first scientist to produce test-tube meat.

Writing in the Times of London earlier this week, Lois Rogers reported that Mark Post of Eindhoven University in Holland extracted cells from the muscles of a pig and subsequently got them to multiply and grow in a "broth" made out of blood from animal fetuses. (Eventually, he intends to replace the broth with a synthetic solution.)

Post told the paper that his technique might lead to laboratory-raised sausages and other processed meats within five years. "You could take the meat from one animal and create the volume of meat previously provided by a million animals," he said.

He does, however, have more work to do before there's petri-dish bacon in every frying pan. Although Post has yet to taste his meat, he said its texture was "rather like wasted muscle tissue." Other adjectives used to describe the material included "soggy" and "sticky."

"We need to find ways of improving it by training it and stretching it, but we will get there," Post said. "This product will be good for the environment and will reduce animal suffering. If it feels and tastes like meat, people will buy it."

With all due respect, I would advise Post not to be in such a rush. Given the taste and texture of the last supermarket pork chop to pass my lips, I get the feeling that factory hog farmers are working as fast as they can to endow mass-produced pork with the very traits Prof. Post wants to remove.