Dutch startup Meatable recently raised $3.5 million to accelerate its breakthrough technology in the clean-meat (also known as “lab-grown” or “cell-based”) industry. Meatable founders Daan Luining and Krijn De Nood, with the help of renowned cell biologist Mark Kotter, believe they have solved a milestone barrier to market for slaughter-free animal products. Fetal bovine serum (FBS)—a costly liquid extracted from slaughtered cows in the dairy industry—is currently used as a media within cellular agriculture that allows animal cells to proliferate and eventually grow into cell-based meat. While many clean-meat companies are searching to create a suitable plant-based serum substitute for FBS, Meatable extracts stem cells from calf umbilical cords around which the founders have developed proprietary technology that sidesteps the need for a growth medium altogether. “This way, we don’t harm the animals at all,” Meatable De Nood told Business Insider, “and it’s material that would otherwise get thrown away.” Stem cells are different from those typically sourced from live animal tissues as they are not “pre-programmed” to differentiate into a specific type of cell allowing for scientists to coax them into various forms such as fat or muscle. The company is currently working to produce beef burgers, sausages, followed by chicken and pork-based applications, before moving to more complex meat structures such as steak. Meatable aims to launch its flagship products in the Netherlands—where cell-based regulations are more lax—within four years. Currently, there are 27 companies operating in the emerging clean-meat industry, including California-based JUST—known for its vegan mayonnaise Just Mayo and egg replacer Just Egg—which plans to debut the world’s first slaughter-free chicken to consumers on a restaurant menu outside of the United States this year.

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