“Cultured Pork” — from Lab to Plate — Chula Researcher Hopes to Ensure Future Food Security

A Chula Veterinary Science professor has researched the production of imitation pork from tissue culture of which taste and nutritional value are close to real pork and is prepared to start commercial production hoping to help address future food security challenges.

As the population’s demand for meat increases while the livestock farmland dwindles and animal husbandry continues to affect global warming, many are trying to find new animal protein alternatives to meet consumers’ needs without farming.

“Cultured meat” is an innovative food of the future that is today’s reality from more than 2 years of research by Assist. Prof. Dr. Chenphop Sawangmake from the Veterinary Stem Cell and Bioengineering Innovation Center (VSCBIC), Faculty of Veterinary Science, Chulalongkorn University (CUVET).

“This is an innovative alternative to meat consumption without the need to raise farm animals or considerable resources.  It helps preserve the environment, and meet consumers’ needs for nutritional value and food safety,” said Assist. Prof. Dr. Chenphop.

As the cofounder of Bio ink Co., Ltd., a spin-off company of CUVET, under the incubation of the CU Innovation Hub, Asst. Prof. Dr. Chenphop revealed that cultured meat products are undergoing research in the factory production process and a market launch in the near future.

“In the future, cultured meat will be an alternative food that may be a substitute for natural meat, and Thailand has a strong potential to compete in the global market.”


A sample of cultured meat


What is cultured meat?

Cultured meat is derived from a process of imitating cell and tissue generation with “stem cell” technology in bioengineering and biomaterials.

“In every tissue, there are hidden stem cells. We use our proprietary method to isolate those cells for further culture and cells multiplication in the laboratory.  If proper cells are harvested, multiplication will be continuous. We only use a small number of cells, because one starter cell can create a lot of products depending on the culture process, production, and meat formation,” Asst. Prof. Dr. Chenphop explained.

“The advantage of cultured meat is that it is clean.  The tools and the production line are of the same level as those used in pharmaceutical production, so the product is clean, safe, and free from contamination.  We can also add seasoning, and desired nutrients as needed.”


Cultured meat for food security and the environment

The plight of epidemics in both animals and people, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, has shown us the importance of food security for which cultured meat is one of the solutions.

“The meat culture process uses closed systems in factories, so epidemics in animals or people will not affect the meat production process, and is an assurance that we will still have meat protein sources for consumption,” Asst. Prof. Dr. Chenphop emphasized.

Moreover, cultured meat contributes to the reduction of pollution in the world as well.

“Food production via animal farming generates a considerable amount of methane gas which contributes to global warming. Many countries are therefore trying to reduce the pollution from animal husbandry in the long run. Though Thailand is an agricultural country, alternative food production of both plant-based and cultured meat will be inevitable in the future.


Cultured meat – the food trend of the future

Asst.Prof. Dr. Chenphop said that cultured meat is a growing market and is already well received by international consumers. Thailand is ready to gain market share despite the high cost of technology and production platform. More domestic and international companies are expected to invest.

“When the product is finished, we will see and taste the first batch of cultured meat products, and in the future, it will be in the form of processed food that are available in convenience stores, as well as high-value meats,” Assist. Prof. Dr. Chenphop concluded.


For more information, contact Bio ink Co., Ltd.


Source: https://www.chula.ac.th/en/highlight/71623/