Food Companies Looking Into High Tech Meat Substitutes

Jan 27, 2014 04:18 PM EST | By Dina Exil

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McDonalds' Big Mac
Several companies are using technology to physically create animal meat and other products as an effort to replace using actual meat. Their target audience will be blue carnivores. (Photo : REUTERS)

Would you eat a hamburger that was not made from a cow?

According to FOX News, several companies are using technology to physically create animal meat and other products as an effort to replace using actual meat. Their target audience will be blue carnivores.

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Based on a 2013 study from the research firm, Mintel, a large number of consumers have become interested in alternatives for beef and fish meat. Companies that will be involved in the science experiment include Gardein Protein, a veggie dog food company, and Bill Gates startup companies, Hampton Creek Foods and Beyond Meat.

According to Beth Bloom, food and drink analyst for Mintel, about seven percent of Americans now consider themselves vegetarian. Thirty-six percent say they use alternative meat.  Based on research by the Worldwatch Institute, meat production has tripled in the last four years.

Critics still question the health risks that tag along when it comes to eating meat made in a tube. FOX reported that health officials are also concerned about greenhouse emissions and animal welfare

Current food products are now presenting non-GMO soy, wheat gluten and produced grains to replace the use of "animal products." Beyond Meat's plant-based Chicken-Free Strips are reportedly filled with protein and have all of the taste of a chicken without the use of "antibiotics, hormones, GMOs, trans fats and cholesterol."

"We're looking at how we can create value-added products with benefits that far exceed what [consumers] get from just eating meat," Ethan Brown, CEO of Beyond Meat, said.

Next month, Beyond Meat will present their beef replacement made with yellow pea protein minus gluten or soy, which most beef alternatives include.

"We're taking proteins and running them through a heating, cooling and pressure process that realigns them so that they substantially mimic the fiber structure that you find in animal flesh or meat," Brown said. "The outcome for the consumer is that it tears like meat, it has the same grams of force required to rupture and it has the overall mouthfeel of muscle," he said.

Celebrity chef Alton Brown, told Wired magazine that he would not be able to tell the difference between the meat when it came to the Chicken-Free Strips:

"My first thought was, 'If I were served this in a restaurant, I'd tell them they'd made a mistake and given me real chicken,'" the chef told the magazine.

According to Brown, the meat alternative business was a $553 million growing market in 2012, with red meat being worth $58 billion alone. Despite only being available at Whole Foods and other pricey venues, Brown said his company is looking to hit the shelves of Winn Dixie and Wal-mart.

"Products in this category are not just appealing to vegetarians and those who don't eat meat. Consumers who are meat eaters are becoming more interested," Mintel analyst Bloom said

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