Scientists are working on a variety of cell culture procedures. The cutting edge of in vitro meat engineering is the attempt to get cells to grow as if they were inside a living animal. Meat like steak is a complex combination of muscle, fat and other connective tissue. Reproducing the complexity of muscle is proving difficult.
"An actual whole muscle organ is not technically impossible," said Bob Dennis, a biomedical engineer at both North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina, who attended the conference. "But of all the tissue engineering applications it is by far the most difficult one."
While scientists are struggling to recreate filet mignon, they anticipate less trouble growing hamburger.
"The general consensus is that minced meat or ground meat products — sausage, chicken nuggets, hamburgers — those are within technical reach," Matheny said. "We have the technology to make those things at scale with existing technology."
It might lead to the Great British Sausage, chicken nuggets and hamburgers being made out of somthing that is readily identifiable as actual meat.