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The UK’s Quest Meat has held a tasting of its edible and food-safe microcarrier replacements – set to boost the scale-up of cell-based meat production. 


Meat cells are inherently adherent cells, meaning they grow while attached to surfaces. Microcarriers are micro-scale material beads or particles that provide a large surface area to volume ratio for adherent cells to attach and grow. They allow adherent cells to be grown in large fermenters where the cells would otherwise float and die. 


To date, in the cell-based meat space there has been a reliance on extrapolating from the biopharmaceutical industry, with attempts to adopt the same technology and know-how that has been used to produce recombinant proteins and vaccines since the 1970s. An example of this, is the use of biopharma grade microcarriers. However, these microcarriers present multiple challenges when applied to food, including poor cell harvest, the presence of non-edible (microplastic) materials and limitingly high costs. 


Currently, microcarriers represent a significant portion in the cost of cell-based meat production, and as a result cost-effective food-grade microcarriers have become an almost inevitable necessity. Despite this there is a distinct lack of effective, edible microcarriers commercially available to the cell-based meat industry.  


This is where Quest’s edible, food-safe, microcarriers come into play.  


“Our microcarriers are animal-free and completely edible (with the intention that they will remain in the final product),” a Quest spokesperson told The Cell Base. “We have seen really promising results using these microcarriers with our cells in-house and have validated them at scaled systems (seed train and 500ml bioreactors). But last week we did our first team cook-up and tasting.” 


Throughout the tasting, Quest found that its microcarriers had an ‘umami flavour,’ a ‘distinct meaty gravy-like smell,’ the microcarriers ‘browned and crisped upon cooking,’ ‘behaved like meat when cooking’ and had a ‘delicate, easy to chew texture’.  



Ella Hodder, project manager at Quest Meat, told The Cell Base: “We were really pleased with how well the material performed during cooking, the material genuinely behaved and smelled like meat. The tasting showed us that not only is our microcarrier replacement material scalable and sustainable, but it can also provide beneficial meat like, visual and sensorial attributes to the final food product.” 


#QuestMeat #UK

 

 

Quest holds first tasting for microcarrier replacements for cell-based meat

Phoebe Fraser

15 April 2024

Quest holds first tasting for microcarrier replacements for cell-based meat

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