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Lab-grown meat is starting to feel like the real deal

When it comes to making realistic lab-grown meat, one of the hardest things to replicate is not the taste, but the feel. In a new study, researchers created a spongy 3D scaffold out of soy protein that both scientists and tasters say made a clump of bovine cells feel like the real deal, Inside Science reports. Scientists have been able to grow “nuggets” of muscle cells to use for hamburgers and meatballs (above). But for this new study, they wanted to create something that felt more like a steak. So they seeded and grew three cell types—smooth muscle, endothelial cells, and satellite cells—a combination that gave the end product more meatlike texture properties than the scaffold alone, the researchers write in Nature Food. When three volunteers tasted the “steak,” they reported a good taste, aroma, and, most importantly, texture. The researchers say their new scaffold could help scale up the production of different types of cultured meats—and provide protein sources beyond animal agriculture.

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