New £210,000 London burger is first “grown in a lab dish”

A burger will be "grown in a dish"

A very expensive burger will be served up in London next month - the first restaurant burger in history not be carved from a cow, but grown in a lab dish.

The burger will be served at an invitation-only event in London, created by a “mystery backer” who who funded the £216,000 project led by Professor Mark Post of the University of Maastricht.

The burger is created from around 20,000 strips of muscle tissue which are grown in a jelly-like “growth medium” from beef stem cells.

An earlier version was tested this year, which Post described as tasting, “perfectly reasonable”. That version was made entirely of protein - the new burger has fat added, so should taste better.

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“"The event will include a brief explanation of the science behind the burger before it is cooked and tasted," London PR firm Ogilvy said in a press release this week.

The burgers are created by growing stem cells into muscle cells, then providing the cells with “anchor points” to grown around, which turns them into fibres. The researchers say that it could be cheap enough to be used on a large scale within years.

“It’s a bit like magic”, says Professor Post. “We can increase the efficiency of this process exponentially,  and that’s where the gain lies.”

In theory, vegetarians could eat the burgers without guilt - no animal has died to create them. But not all are convinced.

“Call me old fashioned, but I'm a great believer in hamburgers being made from top quality minced beef. From cows that roamed the fields, chewing cud,” says Tom Parker Bowles, food writer and TV star. "I'm all for new technology, and for sensible, pragmatic solutions to the upcoming world food crisis. But if this is the brave new world of food production, count me out."

Post points out that demand for meat is rising at a level that is unsustainable for the environment - with demand for meat expected to double by 2150.

“Pigs and cows never were designed to serve as our food, and especially not for
nine billion people.” he says.

“I want to persuade people that it’s safe,and in essence the same meat that animals produce.We’re imitating nature in the lab to produce real meat, but in a more animal-friendly and sustainable way.”

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