Scientists Whipping Up “In Vitro” Lab Burgers Just In Time For Summer Grilling Season

Okay, so you’ve assigned all your summer barbecue guests a food to bring — chicken, some veggies for the grill, perhaps a six-pack or two and someone please grab a bag of ice? When it comes to meat…. hmm, how about a couple five-ounce so-called “in vitro” hamburger? Yep, scientists are currently working on creating beef patties in a lab.

Contrary to this story’s headline, those lab burgers won’t be ready for your next backyard soiree. But scientists are bending their minds to the gastronomical task of creating meat using bits of beef muscle tissue grown in a laboratory, reports the New York Times.

Dr. Mark Post is hoping that if he can cook up and serve some of this in vitro or cultured meat at an event in London soon, the funds to continue working on his research will come flowing in.

“Let’s make a proof of concept, and change the discussion from ‘this is never going to work’ to, ‘well, we actually showed that it works, but now we need to get funding and work on it,’ “ he said in an interview last fall.

So far it doesn’t really look much like the ground beef your average grillmaster is used to cooking up — in the photo it appears to be a sort of jiggling pink liquid. It needs some work, which is where the research money would come in.

If scientists are successful, the product could eventually appease animal welfare groups (after certain materials are replaced with those of a non-animal origin) as well as help the environment — large herds of cattle require large areas of land and feed, often at the detriment of the world’s rainforests and other animal habitats.

But again, there’s the money. Dr. Post has had to postpone his in vitro hamburger cooking event before. This time he seems hopeful, with his burger made of 20,000 thin strips of cultured muscle tissue. He says it tastes “reasonably good,” and will only season the meat with salt and pepper for the London showdown.

“I’m not by nature a very passionate guy,” he tells the NYT. “But I feel strongly that this could have a major impact on society in general. And that’s a big motivator.”

Building a $325,000 Burger [New York Times]