CHINA – The world’s largest consumer of meat, China, is on track to once again take the fame of becoming the world’s first country to mass produce lab-grown meatballs.

A research team from Tsinghua University and Nanjing Agricultural University reported to have developed a new “cell factory” to accelerate the expansion of lab-grown animal cells.

The report added that the cell factory will make it possible to industrialize cultured meat,” lab-grown meatballs are ready for mass production.”

The researchers revealed that they have been able to develop an edible, 3D porous gelatin micro-carrier as a cell expansion scaffold.

Using the micro-carrier, they found cell expansion increased 20-fold in seven days, which compares to less than a 10-fold expansion over the same period in previous studies.

The researchers cultured pig muscle cells and fat cells separately before putting them together into a 3D-printed mold.

With the help of an enzyme, they created centimeter-scale meatballs that have substantially higher health benefits, they elaborated.

Furthermore, they found that the cultured meatball contained about 70 percent protein, 4 percent fat, and 6 percent carbohydrate, as well as key essential minerals such as zinc, calcium, and iron.

Ding Shijie, a co-author of the study and a researcher at Nanjiang Agricultural University, said in another study last year: “We believe that the cultured meat industry will develop rapidly with the synergy of technology, regulation, and consumer acceptance.

It will bring tastier, healthier, and more sustainable meat products for consumers in the future.”

In 2017, China signed a US$300 million deal with three Israeli companies that produce laboratory-grown meat.

The new deal with three Israeli lab-meat producers: SuperMeat, Future Meat Technologies, and Meat the Future was intended to significantly reduce the need for animal slaughter and cut down on harmful emissions and pollution.

Recently, China also announced the inclusion of cultivated meats and other “future foods” like plant-based eggs as part of its blueprint for food security going forward, in January 2022.

China has yet to grant regulatory approval for the sale of cultivated meat but that could soon change as pressure mounts to achieve the five-year plan.

So far, Singapore is the only country in the world that has approved the sale of cultured meat that has seen major investments.

The approval has led Eat Just Inc. to invest in the construction of a 30,000-square-foot facility that is slated to open in the first quarter of 2023 in Singapore.

The facility will have the capacity to produce tens of thousands of pounds of meat from cells and house the single-largest bioreactor in the cultivated meat industry to date, the company said.

Cultured meat technology, which grows genuine meat by cultivating animal cells in a lab, is seen as a promising alternative for producing healthier and more sustainable protein.

GlobeNewswire reports that the global cultured meat market size is projected to grow a CAGR above 16% over the forecast timeframe and reach a market value of US$517 million by 2030.

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