The cultivated meat maker Mission Barns is now offering consumers a chance to try its brand-new bacon grown from real pork fat cells, produced without animal slaughter. A group between 50 and 100 individuals will be selected for a weeklong tasting in mid-August to be carried out in selected restaurants.
Proteins cultivated in this way aren’t available on the market anywhere yet, so this is an opportunity to find what meat grown from just a few cells tastes like.
Restaurants in the San Francisco Bay area will prepare dishes using Mission Barns bacon, one being Cockscomb in San Francisco and the other an Oakland-based restaurant yet to be named. Cockscomb is owned by Chef Chris Cosentino, who won Bravo’s Top Chef Masters in 2012.
The dishes will be prepared by Mission Barns director of product development, Chef Michael Wallace. The restaurants will serve them at no cost for the tastes. They will have to sign a waiver as the product isn’t approved for commercial sale yet, as well as provide feedback to the company. However, the food won’t be served inside due to the current coronavirus pandemic.
“We definitely are looking for a diverse set of folks in terms of palates and backgrounds,” Eitan Fischer, CEO and Co-Founder of Mission Barns, told Forbes. This means high-end chefs but also “everyday people who really know and really like bacon,” she added.
The company hopes that its cultivated bacon can measure up to the real thing. Mission’s bacon is manufactured with pork fat and a mix of plant-based ingredients for texture. It’s grown from cells instead of processing parts of a butchered animal, as Fischer describes it.
The pork cells are fed with a mix of nutrients and sugar to grow and fatten up until you essentially have a slice of bacon. While the process can be expensive for most cuts of meats, it’s much cheaper for fat cells. And since bacon is mostly pork fat, Mission Barns can move forward with its products.
“Our process begins by isolating cells from an animal and placing them in a warm cultivator which mimics the animal’s body. The cells grow naturally as they do in a cow, chicken, or pig as we feed them nutrients including vitamins, sugars, and proteins. After the cells fatten the cultivation process is complete. We then harvest the meat, throw it on a pan, and enjoy,” the company describes.
Nevertheless, there’s still a long way to go. The company has already reached the scale of production to supply to a small number of restaurants but it doesn’t expect to sell its bacon this year. Alongside Missions Barns, there are other 36 companies around the world working to make cultured proteins a reality.
Different companies are now working on different products. BlueNalu is working on seafood, while East Just and chicken giant KFC are working on chicken nuggets. These efforts and the upcoming tasting by Mission Barns could mean commercialization of cultured proteins might soon be a reality.