What is Clean Meat?

Published: Oct. 4, 2018 at 7:49 AM CDT
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You may have heard the term “clean meat” being batted around by the media. Dan Hale is a Texas A&M AgriLife Meat Scientist and told us that the technologies being used to make this product are evolving and gave us an idea of how it’s currently being made.

“People ask me where did the term clean meat come from? Well, it came from a focus group, basically that’s all marketing. In reality, the term clean meat could be applied to anything, because any cattle right now underneath that hide that meat is clean, until you expose it to air or the environment. That’s when the bacteria potentially could get on that product.”

Hale says that term “clean meat” really doesn’t fit.

“I think that they probably ought to use the real term for it which is meat that is grown in a lab. So you might call that lab meat or cultured lab meat and what that is, is that they take cells, either stem cells or myoblasts from the embryonic calf and they’ll take those cells and put them in a media.”

Hale explains that media is the food that the cells grow on.

“And currently they use fetal calf serum as a good source of nutrients for those cells as they grow. And they add to that growth regulators, nutrients, and even some hormones to help make those cells proliferate into muscle cells and grow over and over and over again in this lab medium that they have developed.”

Hale stresses that he doesn’t want to detract from the technology.

“Because I think that if we’re going to feed nine billion or ten billion people by the year 2050, we need all of the technology at hand to make sure that we can do that. But I think that’s it’s important to realize that this product isn’t necessarily what we would consider beef or chicken.”