One of the UK’s top academic institutions in the field of lab-produced meat, which is expected to be the food of the future, is Aston University.
The University is one of 17 colleges and universities that are anticipated to have a significant impact on the growth of meat produced in a lab.
Meat that has been grown in a lab is made from animal cells that have undergone biopsy. There is no animal slaughter involved because the cells are used to produce meat. Compared to conventional livestock, the process promises fewer greenhouse gas emissions and less land use for production.
Cellular Agriculture UK, a nonprofit organization that supports the UK’s so-called “cell-ag” sector, has compiled a list of universities.
In their study Mapping the potential for UK universities to become research and teaching hubs for cellular agriculture, they selected five institutions to highlight, with Aston University being one of them.
According to the report, Aston University has the potential to serve as an anchor institution for cellular agriculture. It was praised for its research and teaching, community outreach initiatives, connections to the emerging industry, and strategic location.
In order to produce enough cell mass to produce the meat, Dr. Eirini Theodosiou, senior lecturer in the School of Infrastructure and Sustainable Engineering, focuses on various methods.
She said: “This is still a relatively new food technology. Unlike many others, we work on biomaterials for microcarriers/scaffolds for cultivated meat, which puts us in a very strong position, in the UK at least.”
Meanwhile, Dr. Jason Thomas’ research examines the psychology that encourages people to accept food that was created in a lab. Even though many people are willing to give it a shot, many others are still hesitant.
According to a recent US and UK study, 35% of meat eaters and 55% of vegetarians said the idea of cultured meat made them too sick to even consider trying it. How to encourage people to not just try it but to incorporate it into their diets is one of his research’s main objectives.
Dr Thomas said: “We are interested in finding out what factors can influence consumer purchase of and consumption of lab-made meat.”
“The engineering/psychology link is one of our USPs and is something Aston University can capitalize on; learning what the consumer wants from cultivated meat, and what would encourage them to consume it, using psychological science, and then incorporating this directly into the production process via engineering.
“It is a relatively new food technology and much work still needs to be done to make it affordable, acceptable, and on a massive scale, but it could easily end up being one of the most transformative new foods of the 21st century.”