South Korea Develops Meaty Rice to Provide a Sustainable Source of Protein

Yonsei University scientists in Seoul, South Korea, are currently researching the integration of cultivated beef cells into rice grains.

This innovative application of emerging food technologies has the potential to transform the global food industry.

The objective of this developing creation, known as ‘meaty rice’ is to provide a sustainable protein source without the need for animal farming, thus significantly transforming the methods of food production worldwide.

During this procedure, fish gelatin is applied to a rice grain to assist in adhering the injected beef cells. The grains are then cultivated in a Petri dish for approximately 11 days to allow for cell multiplication.

Professor Hong Jin-kee utilizes the slightly porous structure of rice to promote even cell growth within the grain, making it an ideal environment for this process.

The dish was created without harming any animals. It resembles a typical bowl of rice, but with a pink hue and a subtle buttery scent, achieved by incorporating beef muscle and fat cell culture. According to Hong from Seoul’s Yonsei University, using cultured meat allows for the production of animal protein without the need to slaughter livestock.

Businesses around the globe have been looking to market meat substitutes like plant-based or lab-grown meat in response to ethical concerns about factory farming and environmental worries related to the carbon emissions from animal agriculture.

Meaty Rice

Hong, with expertise in organoids and biomedical sciences, decided to focus his research on rice because it is already a primary source of protein for many people in Asia.

Currently, the process he uses is quite time-consuming. First, a typical rice grain is coated with fish gelatin to aid in keeping. Then, each grain is individually injected with beef cells and cultured in a petri dish for a maximum of 11 days.

According to Hong, rice has a slightly porous structure, which makes it an excellent medium for the uniform growth of cells from within.

Various countries have varying regulations regarding lab-grown meat. For example, Singapore and the US allow its sale, while Italy prohibits it to safeguard its industries.

In 2022, South Korea demonstrated a commitment to advancing food technologies by allocating significant funds for foodtech enhancements and prioritizing cellular agriculture research.


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