Cultured fats for food
The Belgian startup company Peace of Meat produces cultured fats for a range of cultured and plant-based foodstuffs. With a B2B focus, the company aims to help other manufacturers improve the flavor and texture of cultured meat products such as hybrid chicken nuggets. Chief Product Officer Eva Sommer is hopeful that cultured animal fats can ultimately support the development of more complex structured meat cuts such as steaks.
Eva Sommer, a biotechnologist with a background in food science, has eliminated animal products from her diet since she was 15. Now she brings her wealth of knowledge and experience to Peace of Meat as the Chief Product Officer. With a business-to-business (B2B) focus, the company will be a key player in the future development of cultured meat, especially structured meat products such as steaks and other cuts that have multiple layers of fat and muscle fibers and which are much more challenging to produce than in-vitro burger patties.
“Cultured meat will be an interesting alternative for people who cannot stop eating meat. If the product is really good, then cultured meat consumption will replace traditional meat,” says Sommer. Peace of Meat recently presented a proof of concept for chicken nuggets that contain 20 percent cultivated animal fat, with the remaining 80 percent consisting of other plant-based ingredients. Peace of Meat also develops cultured liver, a cruelty-free alternative to duck liver paté (foie gras).
From vaccines to nuggets
Cultivating avian cells is nothing new; the pharmaceutical industry has been doing it for decades. Continuous avian cell lines have been used for making vaccines and other pharmaceutical applications (Kraus, 2011), and recently, the scientists at Peace of Meat were able to use the cell lines to create cultivated animal fat that helps to improve the flavor and texture of food products that include cultivated animal fat and vegetable ingredients, such as the chicken nuggets that Peace of Meat presented.
Cultured fats are an important step toward manufacturing more complex cultured meat products, such as cultured steak or chicken breast, since the fat is a key component of the structure of meat. While there have been breakthroughs in the development of both muscle tissue and fat tissue, Sommer anticipates that it will take at least another 15 years to produce structured cultured meat by incorporating both kinds of tissue on a scaffold or frame.
Widespread adoption of clean meats
Growing concerns related to animal welfare and consumers’ health are paving the way for industrial production of cultured meat and in-vitro animal fat. The main obstacles to upscaling that startups such as Peace of Meat must overcome are related to funding for research and development. However, Sommer is confident that cultured meat will become a viable alternative to traditional meat.
“Cultured meat will be an interesting alternative for people who cannot stop eating meat. If the product is really good, then cultured meat consumption will replace traditional meat.”
With a focus on animal fats, Peace of Meat aims to provide a key ingredient for many cultured meat products such as chicken nuggets that will improve their flavor. However, using cultured fatty layers to produce complex structured meat cuts is a much more demanding challenge, and one that will require a collective industry-wide effort.
Eva Sommer predicts that mass production of cultured meat (in the range of 100’000 tonnes) will be a reality by 2030, and that structured meat from cultured cells will be available in 2035.
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Kraus, Barbara et al., “Avian Cell Line – Technology for Large Scale Vaccine Production.” BMC Proceedings, vol. 5 Suppl 8, 2011, p. P52. PubMed, doi:10.1186/1753-6561-5-S8-P52.