If you want to try some, farmed meat is still hard to find: so far, only one type of cultured chicken has regulatory approval, and only in Singapore. But more is to come, and your pets won’t have to wait long either. Soon there will be farmed meat for pet food, which could help cut 64 million tons of carbon pollution from producing meat for dog and cat food.
The biotech startup because animals are the first to focus on pet food, and it hopes to launch its first products — including a “mouse cake” snack for cats — by 2022. “The ultimate goal of most farmed meat companies is to create a product that is one of the most important things to do,” he said. Shannon Falconer, CEO and co-founder of Lans, Animals, said in an email that this would allow animals to be taken out of the food supply chain.With humans being the largest consumers of conventional meat, it makes sense to focus on humans when making a cultured meat product.However, The thing most people don’t realize is that in addition to humans, there is another very important population group that is driving the animal farming industry forward: our pets.”
More than a quarter of animal farming’s environmental impact, by one estimate, comes from feeding pet meat. Pet food often uses provided meat, horrific ingredients that people don’t want (such as entrails, heads, bones, and blood) or meat that can’t be legally sold because the livestock was sick or dying. The volume of meat served is so large that if farmers could not sell it, they would not be able to dispose of it as biologically hazardous waste; Falconer argues that pet food helps support the entire industry.
While some companies make vegan pet food, dogs and cats are arguably healthier when they eat meat, especially cats, who need certain proteins that can only be found in meat. When the startup started developing the product for its first cat food, it decided to start not with beef or chicken but with a mouse. “Cats have evolved as predators, and their food sources are mice, rats, rabbits, lizards, and insects,” Falconer says. “Although chicken, beef, and fish are the main sources of meat in pet foods, studies have shown that these proteins are also among the major food allergens in cats and dogs.” She says the only reason this meat is used in pet food is that it is actually produced for humans.
The first snack, called cat cookies, has been tested by cats and ready for production, although the company is still working out how to fully scale its operation. Like cultured meats being developed for humans, the process begins by harvesting cells from an animal — in this case, a rat (the mouse is not harmed) — and then feeding those cells with nutrients inside a bioreactor, where they grow and become true. Animal free meat. The cultured rabbit for dogs will come next.
The final challenge, as with human cultured meat, is regulatory approval. “Regulatory approval will look different by country,” Falconer says. But the key question any regulatory authority will ask is: How do we know it is safe? There is not a single animal trial that does not make the health and safety of farmed meat our top priority. We are incredibly meticulous, so we don’t expect any disruption around regulatory approval apart from the inherently lengthy review process.”