Local biotech startup to create Africa’s first cultivated meat

Mzansi Meat Co, was established earlier this year and is working to become the first cultivated meat company in Africa. 

The goal is to produce high-quality meat products and move away from the traditional methods of harvesting livestock for meat

Many South Africans daily diet consists of meat and has been synonymous with our local culture such as hosting a Sunday braai for family and friends. According to reports, the country is home to 14-million cattle and 30-million sheep. 

Brett Thompson, a co-founder of Mzansi Meat Co, was inspired to create Mzansi Meat as he completed his honours thesis at the University of Stellenbosch. The thesis, titled, “Making an Economic Case for Vegetarianism”, provided further insight into the meat economy of the country for Thompson. 

According to its website, the company aims to “reinvent how we think about food, for the benefit of our planet, our health, and the lives of animals.”

Mzansi Meat Co aims to utilise a unique cultivating method, which involves harvesting animals cells and placing these cells into a bioreactor so they are able to grow. After the cells are harvested, the animal is then cared for in their specialised post-biopsy recovery facility. 

When the process is complete, the meat is harvested and ready for distribution. The process employed at Mzansi Meat Co ensures that the animal is able to live a healthy life in a protected reserve. 

Beyond the traditional method 

Traditionally, livestock is maintained until it reaches maturity and once it has, the livestock is slaughtered and the meat cuts are harvested. 

 Mzansi Meat Co believes that this method has become inefficient as many of the animals live in crowded unsanitary conditions. 

According to the company, more than 60 million land animals are slaughtered globally every year and the process often involves using cruel and stress-inducing methods.

A cruelty-free approach 

Mzansi Meat Co has developed a “cruelty-free” harvesting method that does not harm the animal and allows it to live a longer life. The company has also been using a serum-free culture medium and growth factors. 

The biotech has also been testing various combinations of yeast cultures, hydrogels, plant-cellulose, and animal-free biomaterials in order to replicate the taste and texture of real meat.

Advantages of cultivating meat 

The biotech also believes that there are also added benefits to cultivating meat. Livestock farmers use antibiotics to ensure the health of the livestock which has led to a rise in antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

According to its website, the meat cultivation process does not involve any antibiotics and does not produce any stress hormones.

The Mzansi Meat Co believes that the high demand for meat products and the growing population will lead to a meat shortage and a drastic increase in prices.

Read more: Biotech startup launches Covid-19 early warning and disease tracking solution
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Feature Image: José Ignacio Pompé via Unsplash 



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