Could Cultivated Meat Unlock Southern Africa’s Nutritional Problems?


06 Oct 2021 — Mogale Meat, a South African food technology and cellular agriculture company, is developing solutions to the inadequate nutrition and food security problems of southern Africa, including creating cellular meat from of antelopes and free range cattle.

Company CEO Dr Paul Bartels says FoodIngredientsFirst how cultured meat in southern Africa enables a leap towards a more sustainable meat production process and how cultured meat technology can help solve some of the biggest nutrition challenges facing the food industry in the region and potentially solve the food security dilemma.

“Southern Africa is plagued by undernutrition, including stunting, wasting, underweight and micronutrient deficiencies. Meat, and more specifically cell culture meat, can provide some of the essential nutritional needs and is effective, given its improved bioavailability compared to some plant-based diets, ”explains Bartels.

“Cell culture meat derived from the African antelope is leaner and healthier meat compared to meat derived from animal species.”

Cement food security in Africa
Africa’s growing population is rapidly exceeding the continent’s ability to provide affordable nutritious food.

Cultured meat is a giant leap in meat production, as global nutritional demand increasingly exceeds agricultural production capacity, straining the environment and natural resources, the company says.

Bartels’ strategy is to advance biotechnology to provide affordable, healthy and nutritious cell culture meat products to a growing population, for the benefit of animals, humans and the planet. It simultaneously addresses the challenges of the United Nations SDGs and supports the conservation of Africa’s biodiversity for future generations.

Another of the company’s goals is to preserve Africa’s rich wildlife reserves and heritage.

A two-way technological approach
Bartels details the process of cultured meat production and how cells are used in this process.

Cellular meat production is a multi-step process that involves the isolation of the antelope meat cell line, starter cell culture, cell expansion, and cell differentiation.First step in the cultured meat production process (Credit: Mogale Meat Company).

During cell starter culture, cells are screened and selected. At the stage of cell expansion, cells are replicated on an increasing scale. Finally, the cell differentiation step involves the harvesting of cell aggregates and their transformation into meat products.

“In our short time in business, we have been able to produce and cryopreserve more than 500 cell cultures of five species of antelope and cattle,” explains Bartels.

“These collections are being reviewed to select cells to add to our next stage of development, namely scaling cells in benchtop bioreactors.”

“Here again, we approach the technology in two ways, on the one hand the use of embryonic stem cells and on the other hand the production of fat and muscle stem cells from the collection of small biopsies.

The types of meat used also encompass the two-way approach. “Our strategy is twofold, namely to focus on antelope meat (venison), which is lean and nutritious meat. Second, the variety of antelope species will allow us to produce new foods, different in taste and texture, ”he explains.

Nutritionally healthier?
When cell culture meat hits retail store shelves, it’s expected to be a nutritionally healthier meat option, Bartels adds.

“This is because the ‘farm to fork’ process of cell culture meat production does not include a multitude of steps as seen in conventional meat production,” he continues. .

“Stages such as acute and chronic stress – due to transporting livestock to overcrowded feedlots – overuse of antibiotics, loading and transport to slaughterhouses and the slaughter process can decrease quality. meat.”

These steps can compromise the quality of the final meat product, he notes.

In addition, growth hormones and antibiotics in meat from factory farms can disrupt normal metabolic processes and exacerbate resistance to antibiotics, while zoonotic diseases are on the rise due to factory farming practices and wet markets. These are other factors that are stimulating the development of cell farming technology.Second stage of the cultured meat production process (Credit: Mogale Meat Company).

A two-way technological approach
Bartels says the company has focused on antelope species and livestock since its inception in 2020.

“In our short time in business, we have been able to produce and cryopreserve more than 500 cell cultures of five species of antelope and cattle,” explains Bartels. “These collections are being screened to select cells to add to our next stage of development, namely scaling cells in benchtop bioreactors.”

“Here again, we approach the technology in two ways, on the one hand the use of embryonic stem cells and on the other hand the production of fat and muscle stem cells from the collection of small biopsies.

The types of meat used also encompass the two-way approach. “Our strategy is twofold, namely to focus on antelope meat (venison), which is lean and nutritious meat. Second, the variety of antelope species, and therefore their meat, will allow us to produce new foods, different in taste and texture, ”he explains.

Environmental impact
Cell culture meat is expected to have a massive impact on the environment, wildlife and biodiversity in southern Africa, says Bartels.

“While Africa’s population is expected to double over the next 30 years, it will total over one billion more people on the African continent,” he adds. “One can only predict that with millions more people wanting to eat meat, more land will need to be turned into agricultural production to feed more livestock, destroying millions of square kilometers of natural habitat. “Cultured meat manufacturing process (Credit: Mogale Meat Company).

To solve this environmental and food safety dilemma, Mogale Meat Co sees part of the solution in cell culture meat production.

“Meat production by cell culture meets many United Nations sustainable development goals of saving natural habitats, fighting poverty, improving food security, reducing GHG emissions, and conserving energy. – through the use of renewable energies – and to conserve water, “concludes Bartels.

Investors involved
Mogale Meat Co also has two US-based global venture capitalists, Sustainable Food Ventures and Cult Food Science.

Mogale Meat Co was one of the finalists in the XPRIZE competition. The company collaborated with Cryowild BioBank NPC, University of KwaZulu-Natal and Tshwane University of Technology to “Feed the Next Billion” by developing a sustainable lean system

alternative to chicken breast meat, produced using advanced cell culture technology.

Cultured meat takes the world stage
Industry players around the world have expressed interest in cultured meat and how it is a sustainable meat production option.

FoodIngredientsFirst continuously covers the burgeoning space of farmed meat, seafood, poultry and fish, as well as other foods and commodities that fall under the cellular umbrella.

In September, the Technical Research Center of Finland successfully produced coffee cells in a bioreactor through cell farming, an innovation that can help make coffee production more sustainable.

Dutch start-up Mosa Meat recently received an investment of 5 million euros (US $ 5.6 million) from the Bell Food Group to develop its cultured meat technology. The company also completed a Series B investment round of US $ 85 million to increase its cell culture beef production and received funding from Leonardo DiCaprio on another occasion.

Meanwhile, Asia is developing the cultured meat sector. Last week, Aleph Farms partnered with CJ CheilJedang and the Thai Union to bring cultured meat to the Asian region.

By Nicole Kerr and Gaynor Selby

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