cell-based clean meat for seafood, such as crustaceans like shrimps, crabs, lobsters?
Shiok Meats is a cell-based clean meat company, the first of its kind in Singapore and South-East Asia.
Their mission is to bring delicious, clean and healthy seafood and meats by harvesting from cells instead of animals. Shiok Meats will bring cell-based crustacean meats (shrimp, crab, lobster) to the table.
Their meats are animal-, health- and environment-friendly with the same taste, texture, more nutrients and no cruelty.
We talk about it with, Dr Sandhya Sriram (CEO of Shiok Meat)
What is the definition of cell-based clean meat?
Cell-based meats are meats or seafood that are grown from stem cells instead of killing animals. It is sustainable, ethical and clean without overuse of antibiotics or hormones, no viral or bacterial diseases.
What are the benefits of cell-based clean meat in terms of health, environment and animals welfare?
Clean meats are meats produced from stem cells and cells of the animal, extracted only once, to produce thousands of tonnes of meat in a controlled environment resulting in meats that are tasty, nutritious and cruelty-free. These meats are also sustainable as they use less land, less water and less energy. Since they are produced from stem cells, their biological and chemical composition is exactly as that of meat. So what we are offering is meat for meat eaters, just from a different source and meat for vegans and vegetarians who do not eat meat due to ethical reasons. So essentially, it is true meat, not fake, not synthetic, and for ALL!
What is the process of making cell-based clean meat ?
In the greenhouse, a small cutting of a plant is taken and placed in a nutrient-rich environment with controlled temperature, pressure, pollination and so on to grow the plants, vegetables and fruits. At the end of the day, what you get is still plants, vegetables and fruits with the same taste, nutrition and biological and chemical composition. Similarly, for clean meats and seafood, a small sample of stem cells are taken from the live animal – stem cells have this amazing capability to keep growing if put in the right conditions. Stem cells once frozen down, do not die – they actually just stay there doing nothing – but once you put them back in favorable conditions, they start growing and reproducing again! So once these stem cells are isolated from an animal, they are grown in large quantities – I am talking about millions, billions, trillions of cells in a controlled and sterile environment – in a large chamber called the bioreactor. If you have seen breweries, you would have seen these huge stainless steel tanks in which beer is brewed. Just imagine these huge tanks brewing meat and seafood inside instead of beer!
These tanks hold controlled temperature, pressure, gas exchange and also a nutrient-rich liquid to help grow the cells – very similar to what it is inside of the animal. At the end of the process of a couple of weeks, what you have is meat! The same meat that would have come from a slaughtered animal but with no animal slaughter in this case!
Clean meats are like IVF babies – human beings born using IVF are still human beings! Similarly, clean meat produced in bioreactors is still meat! But it is cruelty-free, ethical, environment-friendly and healthy!
Does the process involves genetic modification?
Some cell-based companies use genetic modification but Shiok Meats does not.
What distinguishes Shiok Meats from others in this field?
We are the only company in the world working on crustaceans like shrimps, crabs, lobsters
What is your actual status?
Currently in R&D and setting up our first manufacturing plant next year.
When do you expect first of your products sold in the market?
Ones you master the technology crustacean meats; can you create all animal type meats (pork, chicken..)?
We will concentrate on seafood and crustaceans.
What is about the taste; is it similar to conventional meat?
Yes, exactly the same as it is biologically, chemically the same as conventional meat.
Plant based meat has different properties during cooking. Does your cell based crustacean meat face the same issue?
It behaves the same as conventional meat.
Other companies such as beyond meat concentrate on plant based meat. Could plant and cell based meat technologies be combined in the future?
Yes definitely, we completely believe in plant-based and cell-based blended products – our prototypes were also done that way
What are currently still the biggest hurdles to manufacture crustacean meats as a product in large quantities?
Reduction of price and ancillary industries supporting the scale up (equipments, consumables etc.)
Sandhya, thank you for the Indiedes and good luck for a fast marketability!