It may sound like the makings of a bad science fiction movie: A company that harvests human tissue to make meat products such as salami. But a new start-up called BiteLabs is claiming to want to make human test-tube meat a reality. And they want to use celebrities to do it.
“At the moment, our primary goal is to provoke discussion and debate around topics of bioethics and celebrity culture,” said Martin from the BiteLabs team. He says he wishes to remain anonymous at this time, due to the controversy surrounding the focus of the company. “We see inefficiencies, environmental hazards, and ethical problems in the world’s food production and distribution. There are exciting opportunities to disrupt these industries while opening new ways to consume celebrity culture.”
Do we believe that? This is more likely the work of provocateurs who want to start a lab meat discussion and not actually use Kanye West to make cured meat.
Here’s how it will work, according to the BiteLabs website. A sample of tissue containing myosatellite cells (the type of cells that help repair and regrow damaged muscle) will be taken from a person during a biopsy. Those cells are multiplied in a lab using a medium that acts as an artificial blood to grow muscle.
Once the cells are mature enough, they will be ground and mixed with different kinds of meat, spices, fats and oils for flavor using one of the company’s “time-honored recipes for the creation of fine cured meats.” It will then be stuffed into casings, seasoned again then dry aged and cured before packaging for distribution.
The company outlines how this type of test-tube meat would eliminate environmental and ethical concerns associated with livestock production, claiming its celebrity meat production would require less than 1% of the land used in traditional farming. The site also notes, the lab meats will not be affected by growth hormones or come into contact with any pesticides or chemicals.
And as far as the celebrity angle, BiteLabs is hoping they can use celebrities to warm people up to the idea of consuming the meat.
“That is our hope, to get celebrities on board, sample their cells, and then use them to mass produce artisanal salami,” said Martin. “We’re in agile mode right now, scaling our user base and attracting celebrities as partners.”
BiteLabs has sample, celebrity meat descriptions on its website written by BiteLabs representative Kevin and food designers on the BiteLab team. There are sample descriptions for James Franco, Kanye West, Jennifer Lawrence and Ellen DeGeneres. None of these celebrities are actually affiliated with the company.
In case you’re wondering, DeGeneres’ salami is described as “black pepper and garlic with a playful kick of mustard give the Ellen salami a highly approachable and well-rounded flavor.” The description notes DeGeneres’ meat would be blended with ostrich and finished with a hint of brandy and shallots.