Israel's Aleph Farms Ltd. claims to have grown the first cell-grown minute steak, delivering the full experience of meat with the appearance, shape and texture of a beef cut.
The Ashdod, Israel-based startup has created a video of that first steak being cooked and eaten.
"The breakthrough not only obtains the true texture and structure of beef muscle tissue steak, but also the flavor and shape, establishing a new benchmark in cell-cultured meat technology," the company states.
Cell-grown meat is typically grown from a few cells of a living animal, extracted painlessly. These cells are nourished and grow to produce a complex matrix that replicates muscle tissue.
One of the barriers has been getting the various cell types to interact with each other to build a complete tissue structure as they would in the natural environment inside the animal, the company explains.
The challenge is to find the right nutrients and their combination that would allow the multicellular matrix to grow together efficiently, creating a complete structure. The company overcame this obstacle thanks to a bio-engineering platform developed in collaboration with the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa.
"Making a patty or a sausage from cells cultured outside the animal [as other firms have done] is challenging enough, imagine how difficult it is to create a whole-muscle steak," said Didier Toubia, co-founder and CEO of Aleph Farms.
Aleph Farms is implementing a combination of six unique technologies that allow it to drop the production costs of the meat, including innovative approaches related to an animal-free growth medium to nourish the cells, and bioreactors — the tanks in which the tissue grows.
Cultured meat, as it increasingly is being called in the U.S., pre-empts the need for vast tracts of land, water, feed and other resources to raise cattle as well as the waste runoff and ultimately slaughtering the animal.
Aleph Farms was co-founded in 2017 by Israeli food-tech incubator The Kitchen, a part of the Strauss Group Ltd., and the Technion. The company is supported by US and European venture capital firms. Aleph Farms joined The RisingFoodStars—the European Institute of Technology (EIT) Food's club of outstanding agrifood start-ups in July 2018.