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Animal-free meat, clean meat, in-vitro meat or something completely third? A new study reveals what the Danes think cell-based meat should be called

A new questionnaire survey from Aarhus University has, among other things, investigated Danes' attitudes towards cell-based meat and milk. Now the first results, which delve into what the Danes think cell-based meat and milk should be called, are ready.

Stock photo: Canva

With an ever-increasing global meat consumption, the search for solutions that are more sustainable and less harmful to the climate than conventional meat production has begun in earnest.

 One of the solutions that has great potential and is on the verge of becoming a viable alternative is cell-based meat, which is grown from satellite cells in a bioreactor.

Satellite cells resemble stem cells, but whereas stem cells can become anything, satellite cells are already "locked" and can therefore only become muscle. By placing these cells in a bioreactor and adding nutrients, you can therefore grow an animal product such as meat.

From bioreactor to plate

Preliminary studies have shown that the energy and resource consumption of cultured meat is expected to be a fraction of what traditional production emits, if the energy used to produce the products comes from sustainable sources.

But it is one thing to be able to produce animal products in a bioreactor. Getting people to eat it is another thing entirely.

Therefore, researchers from Aarhus University, in collaboration with CellFood Hub, have carried out a questionnaire survey with the aim of investigating Danes' attitudes towards cell-based meat and milk.

The first results from the questionnaire survey, which is about what Danish consumers think the new products should be called, are now ready.

Rapid development

2023 was the first year the questionnaire was sent out, and according to the plan it will be repeated in 2024 and 2025. The 2023 version will therefore function as a kind of zero-point measurement, explains the researcher.

"In Italy, cell-based meat has just been banned, so it is an area where a lot is happening at the moment", says Kristian-Alberto Lykke Cobos, who is a research assistant at the Department of Philosophy, Aarhus University, and who deals with the ethical issues that relate to cell-based meat and milk.

He has helped develop the questionnaire together with research colleagues from Aarhus University's MAPP Centre, which deals with value creation in the food sector for consumers, industry and society.

He looks forward to following the results of the coming years.

"At first glance, three years does not seem like a long period to measure. But in an area like this, which is rapidly developing, a lot can happen in a short time. I think it's a matter of months before we see cultured meat on the counters in countries like Israel and the US, and from there it's going to go really fast,” he says.

Currently, cell-based meat is only allowed for human consumption in Singapore, the United States and Israel.

First results are ready

The first results from the questionnaire survey are now available. Here, the researchers asked what preferences people have for what is called cell-based meat and milk.

Questionnaire participants have been asked to rank six possible names for cell-based milk and six possible names for cell-based meat on a scale where 1 is “like most” and 6 is “like least”. The lower the average value, the better the questionnaire participants thought of the name in question.

For meat, "free meat" and "pure meat" are at the top, while "in-vitro meat" is at the bottom.

Term Average
Free meat 3.10
Pure meat 3.20
Cultured meat 3.28
Cell-based meat  3.49
Animal-free meat 3.54
In-vitro meat 4.38

For milk, the peak looks a little different. Here we find "pure milk" and "cultivated milk", while, just like with meat, it is "in-vitro milk" that lies at the bottom.

Term Average
Pure milk 3.17
Cultured milk 3.23
Free milk 3.26
Cell-based milk 3.53
Animal-free milk 3.58
In-vitro milk 4.23

The future

The results point to what it might be most appropriate to call cell-based products in the future, explains Kristian-Alberto Lykke Cobos.

And it could very soon become a reality.

“The three most important things to have in place when making cell-based meat are nutrients, texture and taste. So when you crack the code for all three at once and at the same time have a product that is scalable, it's going to go really fast," he says and elaborates:

"That is why it is important that we have already started this research, so that we can learn more about how the Danes feel about this type of product".

Further results from the extensive questionnaire survey are expected to be published during 2024.

FACT BOX: Who is CellFood Hub?

The AU CellFood Hub aims to accelerate cellular food research and act as a bridge between research environments in food, engineering, health science and food culture.


The project is a collaboration between a number of partners from Aarhus University, including the Department of Management - MAPP, Department of Food Science, Department of Animal and Veterinary Sciences, Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Department of Biological and Chemical Engineering, School of Culture and Society and Center for Quantitative Genetics and Genomics and DCA - Danish Centre for Food and Agriculture.

The CellFood project is led by Professor Jette Feveile Young from the Department of Food Science, who investigates the future production of cellular foods, including cultured meat and milk products as well as precision fermentation and people's attitudes towards this.

CellFood Hub is based on the following cornerstones:

A) cell-based productions and hybrid products, where the latter combine plant and animal elements in a product concept,

B) precision fermentation, where single cells such as bacteria or genetically modified crops produce specific proteins/ingredients and

C) consumer perception/public communication, nutrition and food safety.