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Lab-Grown Meat: What You Need To Know

Posted by Anthony Altieri on

Lab-Grown Meat: What You Need To Know

In recent years, lab-grown or cultured meat has emerged as a promising alternative to conventional meat, celebrated for its potential to reduce environmental impacts, improve animal welfare, and enhance global food security. However, like all nascent technologies, cultured meat isn't without potential pitfalls. This blog post aims to investigate and discuss the potential dangers associated with lab-grown meat.

The Technical Side: Health and Nutritional Concerns

One major concern revolves around the health and nutritional value of cultured meat. A common misconception is that lab-grown meat is identical to conventional meat, but the truth is more complex. The composition of lab-grown meat can differ from traditional meat, given that its production involves a specific selection and growth of muscle cells. Nutrient content, including proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals, may vary.

Furthermore, lab-grown meat production currently requires the use of fetal bovine serum (FBS) as a growth medium, which is not only ethically questionable but also poses potential health risks. FBS can carry animal-borne diseases, and its use could pose significant risks if not thoroughly screened and handled.

However, it's important to note that many cultured meat companies are actively working on developing FBS-free growth mediums, which could eliminate this risk.

Environmental Implications

While cultured meat is often framed as an environmentally friendly option, it's not entirely devoid of potential environmental implications. Lab-grown meat production requires substantial energy use, primarily for the proliferation and maintenance of muscle cells in vitro. Studies suggest that in some scenarios, the greenhouse gas emissions from energy-intensive cultured meat facilities could potentially rival or even exceed those of conventional livestock.

Additionally, there are concerns regarding waste disposal from the production process. The bioreactors used for culturing meat generate waste that needs proper disposal to prevent environmental contamination.

Economic and Social Impacts

The economic and social implications of lab-grown meat also warrant attention. Current production costs for cultured meat are high, raising concerns about affordability and accessibility. While costs are expected to decrease as the technology matures, there's a risk that cultured meat could initially be a luxury product, inaccessible to lower-income individuals.

Additionally, a shift from traditional livestock farming to lab-grown meat could result in substantial job losses in the agricultural sector, raising significant socio-economic concerns.

Consumer Acceptance and Regulatory Hurdles

Lastly, consumer acceptance and regulatory approval represent significant hurdles. The 'yuck factor' associated with lab-grown meat could hinder consumer acceptance. Public perception of lab-grown meat as 'unnatural' or 'artificial' could limit its market penetration, despite its potential benefits.

Regulatory approval is another hurdle. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are responsible for the oversight of lab-grown meat, but clear guidelines for cultured meat products are still in the works.


While lab-grown meat presents an innovative solution to some of the problems associated with conventional meat production, it's not without potential dangers. Thorough scrutiny of its health, environmental, economic, and social impacts is required. It is essential to engage with these potential risks proactively, ensuring a balanced approach between technological innovation and careful consideration of its broader implications.



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  2. FDA (2020). Cultured meat and poultry regulation. Retrieved from

  3. Lynch, J., & Pierrehumbert, R. (2019). Climate impacts of cultured meat and beef cattle. Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems, 3, 5.

  4. Mattick, C. S., Landis, A. E., Allenby, B. R., & Genovese, N. J. (2015). Anticipatory life cycle analysis of in vitro biomass cultivation for cultured meat production in the United States. Environmental science & technology, 49(19), 11941-11949.

  5. Reynolds, A., Newsholme, W., & Liong, M. (2019). Cultured Meat: State of the Art and Future. Biomedicines, 7(4), 99.

  6. Siegrist, M., Sütterlin, B., & Hartmann, C. (2018). Perceived naturalness and evoked disgust influence acceptance of cultured meat. Meat Science, 139, 213-219.

  7. Specht, E., Welch, D., & Stephens, N. (2018). Opportunities for applying biomedical production and manufacturing methods to the development of the clean meat industry. Biochemical Engineering Journal, 132, 161-168.

  8. Stephens, N., Di Silvio, L., Dunsford, I., Ellis, M., Glencross, A., & Sexton, A. (2018). Bringing cultured meat to market: Technical, socio-political, and regulatory challenges in cellular agriculture. Trends in Food Science & Technology, 78, 155-166.

  9. Verbeke, W., Marcu, A., Rutsaert, P., Gaspar, R., Seibt, B., Fletcher, D., & Barnett, J. (2015). 'Would you eat cultured meat?': Consumers' reactions and attitude formation in Belgium, Portugal and the United Kingdom. Meat Science, 102, 49-58.