Invention of Pink Rice Incorporating Beef Cells: Our Food of Tomorrow?

Published by Cédric - Tuesday, February 20, 2024 - Other Languages: FR, DE, ES, PT
Article Author: Cédric DEPOND
Source: Matter

Korean scientists have for the first time successfully cultured both muscle and fat bovine stem cells inside rice grains, paving the way for a new category of protein-rich foods. This initiative, published in the journal Matter, introduces a hybrid food, dubbed "beef rice," which could potentially meet a variety of dietary needs, especially in contexts of food crisis or when feeding disadvantaged populations or military forces is necessary.

The hybrid beef-rice food is pink because the cell culture medium contains phenol red, an acidity indicator.
Credit: Yonsei University

This research, conducted by a team from South Korea's Yonsei University, relies on using rice as a support for the growth of animal cells. Unlike previous attempts which have faced difficulties, the researchers have managed to encourage cell adhesion and growth by initially coating the rice grains with fish gelatin and microbial transglutaminase. This method has resulted in a final product with a slightly higher fat and protein content compared to ordinary rice.

While beef rice may resemble traditional rice after cooking, its texture and taste have unique nuances, with flavors reminiscent of beef and almond. Nutritionally, it offers an increased protein content while maintaining a relatively low carbon footprint compared to conventional beef. Indeed, this food would emit about 13.8 lbs (about 6.27 kg) of CO2 per 220 lbs (about 100g) of proteins whereas beef emits around 110 lbs (about 50 kg).

The implications of this discovery go far beyond the field of nutrition. Indeed, in a context of increasing pressure on food resources and environmental concerns, the emergence of innovative food solutions like beef rice offers a glimmer of hope for a more sustainable and equitable future.
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