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A Reflection of New Harvest’s Achievements: Dr. Post’s Cultured Hamburger is Tasted in London

In celebration of New Harvest’s 10 year anniversary on 23 July 2014, we are looking back at some of the milestones on our timeline of events, which covers the many achievements and breakthroughs in New Harvest’s work and the research into alternative meat production over the last 10 years.

Published August 5, 2014 | Updated October 4, 2021 | Isha Datar

August 5th, 2013: A live tasting in London exhibits the first cultured meat product- a burger created by Dr. Mark Post’s research team in the Netherlands

Happy Cultured Meat Day!

Exactly one year ago today, Dr. Mark Post of Maastricht University unveiled the first cell cultured beef burger before a closed audience of journalists. Also revealed that day was the burger project’s funder – Sergey Brin, Google’s co-founder.

Photo of cultured meat in a petri dish

I had the amazing opportunity to be in the audience that day. No, I didn’t get to taste the burger (that would have been beyond exciting and would have helped considering how often I am asked how it tastes), but I did get to sit alongside cultured meat researchers Henk Haagsman who played a role in the Dutch Cultured Meat Project from 2005-2009, and Cor Van Der Weele, a cultured meat social scientist from Wageningen University.

Photo of the cultured meat patty being cooked on a frying pan

Thankfully, the whole live event was captured on film, and you can see the burger being revealed, then pan fried, then tasted. At the end, you will also see me ask a question about the importance of philanthropy in the development of cultured meat.

Tasters Hanni Rutzler and Josh Schonwald found the burger to be definitely not like a soy alternative, but requiring more flavor. I guess this is to be expected considering this burger was created with 0% fat… completely lean. And we all know the fat and gristle is where the taste resides.

New York Times article summarizing the tasting event

Isha Datar’s reflection of the event in an op-ed piece for CNN

What’s next?

Dr. Post intends to build a better burger – one with fat, and one that is completely animal free.

Photo of the cooked cultured burger in a petri dish on a gingham table cloth

And the burger that was tasted was actually one of two burgers!!! The first burger was cooked the day before, to see how it would perform in cooking conditions. Turns out that that burger has since been plastinated  – a la Body Worlds – and put on display in the Boerhaave Museum in Leiden, the Netherlands. This important Dutch museum also houses the world’s first microscope, created by Antonie van Leeuwenhoek.

We got a picture of the burger’s display (at right) from a friend visiting the museum.

Have there been any other tastings?

We know that Modern Meadow has been sharing it’s cultured steak chips in less publicized, more private venues and events (google “Modern Meadow steak chips” to find some stories on them).

We’re looking forward to the better burger and more iterations of steak chips. Perhaps we’ll also see something tastable from a bioreactor in the near future? The future has yet to show us what the next cultured meat milestones will look like.

Happy Cultured Meat Day!

About the Authors
Isha Datar is Executive Director at New Harvest