Lab-Grown Fish Is Now Real Which Means Slaughter-Free Seafood Could Be Happening Soon

A lab has grown yellowtail product which means slaughter-free seafood is becoming an actual possibility. 

Local food tech startup BlueNalu has earnt recognition for producing slaughter-free seafood, making the company one of the most scientifically-advanced in the science industry.

Despite only being around for two years, BlueNalu has hit a scientific milestone which many researchers could only aspire to.

Last week, at San Diego Bay, the startup’s chef prepared a yellowtail fish in a variety of ways, including it in fish tacos and seafood bisque – much to the small crowds’ amazement.

For anyone that is unfamiliar with cell-based seafood products, it basically means real fish or meat that is grown through cell cultures in a food manufacturing facility.

This means that the ethical and environmental concerns of many are being addressed as companies like BlueNalu could eventually be producing this on a larger scale.

The process may be unfamiliar to the average person, with the company’s founder stating that lab-made seafood products are not unnatural, as even food such as Greek yoghurt requires the culturing of cells to be produced.

“We are not any more ‘lab-made’ than ketchup or Oreos,” said Chris Damman, who is the chief technology officer at BlueNalu, in an interview which took place earlier this year.“They all started in a lab.”

Many similar science startups have demonstrated similar taste tests of their cell-based seafood products, which includes San Fransico based Wild Type, which held a dinner that featured their lab-grown salmon.

However, unlike BlueNalu, the Wild Type’s prototype failed to withstand certain cooking methods, which means BlueNalu have a competitive manufacturing advancement.

Wild Type’s lab-grown salmon has so far proved to fall apart when cooked at high temperatures.

Credit: BlueNalu

BlueNalu’s CEO Lou Cooperhouse stated: “Our medallions of yellowtail can be cooked via direct heat, steamed or even fried in oil; can be marinated in an acidified solution for applications like poke, ceviche, and kimchi, or can be prepared in the raw state.

“This is an enormous accomplishment and we don’t believe that any other company worldwide has been able to demonstrate this level of product performance in a whole-muscle seafood product thus far.”

A profile of the startup was created last year by a Union-Tribune in which industry players discussed how BlueNalu and other companies had faced huge scientific hurdles.

One of the biggest challenges they faced was manufacturing the products in large batches, which has been a struggle for many researchers and startups. Cooking the yellowtail on a small scale during the demonstration was a triumph in itself.

“This was an extraordinary technical feat,” Dammann said in a statement. “When we started this company, there was very little available science on the long-term propagation of fish muscle cells and no reliable culture protocol. To create a whole-muscle product from fish cells that are grown without genetic modification required considerable innovation. Scientifically, the achievement of going from blank canvas to food product so quickly cannot be understated. We are now ready to focus on our next phase of growth to increase production volume.”

Cooperhouse said she expected the startup to be launching its seafood product into a test market within the next two years.

As well as using yellowtail, BlueNalu will also be experimenting and developing with finfish species, such as mahi-mahi and red snapper.

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