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Researchers Stack Cells for More Authentic Lab-Grown Meat

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“This is what all those hours of playing Tetris were for.”

When you buy meat from the grocery store, it usually has a fairly rigid scale of fat to muscle ratios, like 90-10, 80-20, 70-30, and so on. For the average carnivore, meat is meat, but for the selective connoisseurs out there, such rigid scaling is simply too broad to get your taste of choice. Well, what if you could not only customize the fat ratio of your meat down to a single percentage, but not even eat real meat in the process?

Researchers from McMaster University have been tinkering with a new method of cultivating lab-grown meat. Instead of growing the whole thing in a single uniform lump, they’ve instead been raising small “sheets” of fat and muscle fiber, then stacking them on top of each other. Each sheet is about as thick as a piece of paper and they bond to each other instantly, so in theory, you can create a slab of meat with an extremely fine-tuned ratio of fat to muscle. It’s not unlike the method used to cultivate human tissue for creating transplant organs, except people are hopefully not eating those.

“We are creating slabs of meat,” study co-author Ravi Selvaganapathy says. “Consumers will be able to buy meat with whatever percentage of fat they like – just like they do with milk.”

The researchers have already tried this method out, creating meat samples from a couple of different animals. Their first candidate was mouse cells, which did produce a lump of meat, though no one ate it because, like, ew. But they also made a lump with rabbit cells, and this one was tasted. According to the taste testers, it chewed and tasted just like real rabbit meat.

The researchers are already putting together a start-up company in the hopes of commercializing this process and contributing to the global meat supply.