Are you ready for lab-grown meat? If you have never had it before, it’s a step closer because South African cultivated meat company Mzansi Meat Co. has just launched Africa’s first cultivated beef burger.
In a statement on Tuesday (12 April), the company described the launch as “a massive milestone for the brand and a breakthrough for food security on the continent.”
The unveiling took place at a bespoke event in Cape Town this week where a sample burger was prepared. Co-founders Brett Thompson and Tasneem Karodia had a bite along with head of taste Absie Pantshwa and City of Cape Town’s Mayoral Committee Member for Economic Growth Alderman James Vos.
Now that the first burger has been developed, Mzansi Meat Co.’s next step is scaling up. “Cellular agriculture wasn’t an industry in Africa until Mzansi was born. Our burger is only the beginning, we now know it’s possible and the next step is scaling up,” Thompson said.
“It starts with one small beef burger and we aim to be producing tons of cultivated meat every month in the future.”
Karodia added, “We’re working on plans to scale up and move into a pilot production facility as well as a rollout plan with retailers and restaurant partners.
“Next up, we’re developing sausages to go with the burger and our goal is to produce meat that can be used in traditional African cuisine. Everything we make will be braai-friendly and ready for the fire!”
The company said the innovation can help tackle food insecurity on the continent while reducing use of land and water, thereby helping to conserve the environment. “Cultivated meat doesn’t require the killing of millions of animals, which means less intensive livestock conditions,” it added.
How Mzansi Co. cultivates beef burger
As the company celebrates this massive milestone, getting here has been an intricate process. The journey begins at a local farm animal sanctuary where veterinarians remove tiny tissue cells from donor animals, who roam free with as little harm as possible.
Once the cells are harvested, a sample is placed in a nutrient-rich transport medium and taken to the Mzansi Meat Co. lab where they isolate the cells and grow them in a culture medium.
This is a special type of food containing vitamins, salts and proteins that the cells need to develop and divide. Once they have enough cells, they place them on an edible structure and after adding a few additional spices and flavours, the cultivated meat is ready to be dished up and enjoyed.
Well, South Africans are meat lovers and many of them are likely to enjoy this burger once it hits the market.