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Scientists have been growing petri dish hamburgers from cultured meat specimens for the last few years, but Dr. Mark Post wants to make lab-made a consumer reality. The Maastricht-based researcher has been developing a beef muscle in vitro burger that he plans to serve up to attendees at an event in London on August 5th – at a price of $325,000! The burger is made up of 20,000 strips of cultured muscle, and Post plans to prepare it by adding only salt and pepper to enhance its lab-grown flavor.

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Post says that his five ounce hamburger “tastes reasonably good,” but time will tell if that is enough to help consumers adopt the idea of lab-grown meat into the food chain. The in-Vitro cook off will be staged to show consumers and investors that lab meat is no longer an idea but now a reality, and needs to be funded in order to bring it to the market place.

Post’s burgers began with a cell removed from cow necks taken from a slaughterhouse, and were then replicated in the lab using stem cells from fetal calf serum, giving Post an advantage when synthesizing tissue. The resulting burgers are complicated and expensive to make, but had no fat and tackle the environmental and ethical issues of gas emissions, costs of raising livestock, use of land and water, as well as animal rights issues.

The hamburger cook off, which was originally planned for November but postponed due to lack of funds, will help the lab-meat industry take a step closer to making cultured meat mass production a reality. Post hopes that once journalists and other consumers have a chance to sink their teeth into lab grown meat, it will gain support and then funding to speed up the road to mass production.

Via NY Times