Petri Dish Meat, Really?


A concerning emerging area of food science, supported and encouraged by the Federal Department of Agriculture (FDA) is making food, for human consumption, from cultured animal cells. Here is how it works, according to the FDA[1]:

  • Manufacturers typically start with a sample of cells from the tissue of an animal, a process that does not require harm to, or death of, the animal. Some cells from the sample are selected, screened, and grown to make a “bank” of cells to store for later use.
  • A small number of cells are taken from the cell bank and placed in a tightly controlled and monitored environment (typically, a number of sealed sterile vessels of increasing size) that support growth and cellular multiplication by supplying appropriate nutrients and other factors.
  • After the cells have multiplied many times over into billions or trillions of cells, additional substances (for example, protein growth factors, new surfaces for cell attachment, additional nutrients) are added to the controlled environment to enable the cells to differentiate into various cell types and assume characteristics of muscle, fat, or connective tissue cells.
  • Once the cells have differentiated into the desired type, the cellular material can be harvested from the controlled environment and prepared using conventional food processing and packaging methods.

I don’t know about you, but there are many, many questions to ask about this process.  This is MAN-ufacturing at the highest level. The end product is truly man made and a far cry from real whole food produced in nature the way nature is intended to be. It also seems important to state the obvious: The FDA and USDA have not exactly protected us from other harmful foods like fast food, candy, damaged oils, and toxic additives, much less from cancer causing plastics and the like. Why are we confident that making food from cultured animal cells will be a safe adventure?

It poses many questions. Will the health of the animal be ensured before using its cells? What are the “appropriate nutrients and other factors”? How is “appropriate” determined and what does it mean? What are “other factors”? What are “additional substances” and who determines what those are and how they are selected and added? What happens in the process of a small number of cells reproducing into billions and trillions?  Is there multiplication of bad cells in there too?  What is man doing to make cells differentiate into “cell types and assume characteristics” of muscle, fat, or connective tissue? Does that mean it produces fake or synthetic muscles, cells, or connective tissue or is it really bio-identical? What is involved in the “controlled environment” and what happens in the “conventional food processing and packaging process” to further produce it – what chemicals? What artificial flavors and texturing? What preservatives?  In the end, is this really real food at all? Will there be any trials to see if this is harmful to mice or people? 

I am a medical doctor originally trained in the traditional education system. People are brilliant and many wonderful life-giving discoveries in medicine have made our lives much better. But it also remains true that we have not been able to solve some of the biggest problems through science and technology. Afterall, the leading causes of death in 2020[2] still included heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic respiratory diseases, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes, so there is still much we have not solved. All that to say, I’m not sure at all that this idea of fake, man-made meat product is wise or going to help us solve health problems, but rather add to them. Most of these health problems today go directly back to lifestyle – how we eat, exercise, sleep, toxin exposures, and hydrate. We also must continue to elucidate what impact cell phones and Wi-Fi are having on health. With better real HEALTH care, wise lifestyle choices, much can be done to reduce disease. On so many levels, the traditional medical model is fostering disease instead of stopping it. Let’s get real. Eat real food. Choose Health and Wellness.

By: Mila McManus, MD

[1], accessed on December 1, 2022, 4:38pm.



Comments •
Article Categories
Log In to Comment