Petri dish to pitmaster: Texas startup wants to put cell-based brisket on your grill

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In Texas, a cell-based meat startup aims to have a brisket prototype ready in just two years. Katie Kam, cofounder and CEO of the cleverly named BioBQ, tells The Spoon the company grows fat, muscle, and collagen cells using scaffolding to produce the marbling associated with the slow-cooked barbeque mainstay.  “With each sheet about two to four cell layers thick, [we] are working on obtaining the thickness and layered structure consumers expect for jerky and brisket,” she adds.

One major obstacle facing the two-year-old company has been finding a media that doesn’t require pricey—and controversial—fetal bovine serum from pregnant cows, adds Kam, who is vegan.

Cofounder Janet Zoldan, who has a background in biomedical engineering, says that COVID-19 outbreaks in meat processing plants and animal cruelty concerns highlight the need for alternative protein. “If we really can engineer the food that we eat, we can make it healthier,” said Zoldan.

The company is currently seeking funding.