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Scientists in South Korea promote “beef rice” as a potential future source of protein.

In what they claim to be a significant step toward developing a cheap, sustainable, and environmentally friendly source of protein that might replace farmed cattle for meat, South Korean researchers have grown beef cells in rice grains.

The “beef rice” is the first product of its kind, according to Professor Jinkee Hong of Yonsei University in Seoul, who oversaw the research that was published this month in the journal Matter. Grain particles serve as the foundation for the cultivation of animal fat and muscle cells.

In order to produce the final hybrid product, which resembles a pinkish grain of rice, rice grains were first treated with enzymes to establish an ideal environment for cell growth. After that, bovine cells were infused into the rice grains.

The Yonsei team is not the first developing meat products created in a lab. Cultivated meat has been introduced by businesses worldwide; the most recent is plant-based eel and chicken that are grown on a soy base and sold in Singapore.

According to Hong’s research, because fewer people are allergic to rice than soy or nuts, it is safer than those two options.

“If successfully developed into food products, cultured beef rice could serve as a sustainable protein source, particularly in environments where traditional livestock farming is impractical,” he stated.

Compared to regular rice, the beef rice has about 8% more protein and 7% more fat. Due to the protein’s 18% animal origin, Hong pointed out that it is a great supply of important amino acids.

Cultured beef rice might compete on grocery shelves because it costs roughly $2 per kilogramme (2.2 pounds) and has a much lower carbon impact than typical beef products, according to Hong.

According to Hong, there are still issues with technology as well as attracting customers with flavor and texture.

The concept is novel, according to Keum Dong-kyu, who recently tried the rice beef at a Korean BBQ restaurant in Seoul.

“But honestly, I don’t think it can replicate the juiciness or texture of real beef,” Keum stated.

German visitor Christian Krammel expressed more optimism.

“Now, it does not compare to beef yet, but as I see the research is in early stages, I would say it’s a great way forward,” Krammel stated.

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