Lab-Grown Eel Meat Is Finally Here And Yes, It’s A Huge Breakthrough Actually


Some fantastic news for the future of the planet: a company has made lab-grown eel.

While it might sound like a niche vegan endeavor initially, the lab-grown eel meat has tremendous implications on the environment and sea ecology.

The lab-grown eel meat was made by a company called Forsea Foods in Israel, and they’ve raised $5.2 million so far for their unique process.

This is not the type of Beyond / Impossible meat made out of pea protein, soy and other plant-based ingredients, but a ‘real’ meat grown from embryonic cells. There are some plant-based ingredients in the final product, although the recipe is obviously still a secret at this point.

Why is this so major? Well, for one, Japan consumes about 70% percent of the world’s eels catch, so having an alternative would be an incredible help to this fascinating and mysterious species.

From a The Guardian report:

“The eel meat was produced by Forsea Foods in Israel from embryonic cells of a freshwater eel. The company collaborated with a Japanese chef to create unagi kabayaki, marinated grilled eel over rice, and unagi nigiri, a type of sushi.

The company aims to scale up its operation and have the cultivated eel on sale in about two years. Japan’s prime minister, Fumio Kishida, last year backed the development of a cultivated meat industry. The restaurant price in Japan is about $250 a kilogram, and Forsea Foods expects the price of the cultivated eel to match that of the wild-caught eel. […] Forsea Foods’ strategy is to target species at risk of extinction in the wild that also command high prices in restaurants and shops, with eel meeting both criteria. The very complex life cycle of eels, involving long migrations from rivers to the ocean and several distinct life stages, means it is not possible to farm them like some fish.

The cultivated eel was produced using organoids, tiny bundles of tissue originally developed for use in medical research. The organoids are made of embryonic stem cells taken from fertilized eel eggs. These cells can develop into any kind of tissue and, as they grow, they self-organize into the structure of real meat. “

A type of so-called “cultivated meat”, the lab-grown eel could be an economically-viable alternative to the real deal, as it doesn’t involve as complex a manufacturing process as for example lab-grown beef. 

Because seafood like eels, fish or clams usually have an uniform texture in the meat, scientists don’t have to mimic complex structures like the marbling on a steak.

Also, if you didn’t know, the life cycle and behavior of eels is such a fascinating thing, scientists are still stumped about the creatures. What they do know however is that their numbers have drastically reduced for the past 4 decades. 

Them being used as a food source not only impacts their numbers but destroys other marine life as well due to fishing practices. 

With lab-grown eel virtually identical to the real deal, since it uses stem cells technology, hopefully those negative trends can be reversed.

Also read: Can Cats Taste Umami?

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