How close are we to a hamburger grown in a lab?

Story highlights

  • The creation of in vitro, or "clean," meat involves extracting stem cells from animals
  • The extracted cells are grown and multiplied in a lab to create meat
  • Experts' conservative estimates say clean meat will on store shelves by 2021

(CNN)The latest craze in the food industry, in vitro or "clean" meat, is produced by extracting stem cells from animals and then growing and multiplying those cells in a lab to create a piece of meat.

The cells "start to divide and start to form new muscle tissues. ... (We) let them proliferate until we have trillions of cells," explained Dr. Mark Post, CEO of Mosa Meats, one of the earliest creators of clean meat. The process of making a hamburger patty takes about nine weeks.
    It's the same technology that's being utilized in the medical field to repair organs. said Dr. Uma Valeti, CEO of another clean meat manufacturer, Memphis Meats. "At my own cardiology practice, I used stem cells in a clinical study to repair damaged heart muscle," he said.
      Bill Gates, Richard Branson and others are investing $17 million in the in vitro meat company Memphis Meats, which produces laboratory-grown meat for meatballs and other products.

      But how does it taste?

      To achieve public acceptance, industry leaders agree, in vitro meat must taste the same as, if not better than, conventional meat. Bruce Friedrich, co-author with Kathy Freston o