KOREA, Jinju. Researchers at the Gyeongsang National University in Korea published their findings on the taste characteristics of cultured meat. Besides lowering production costs, consumer acceptance will be a crucial element for the long-term success of the lab meat.
In their paper “A Comparative Study on the Taste Characteristics of Satellite Cell Cultured Meat Derived from Chicken and Cattle Muscles”, published in the journal Food Science of Animal Resources, the scientists focused their research on the amino acid composition of meat, specifically of cattle and chicken.
Consumer acceptance of cultured meat is highly dependent upon color, taste, and in particular, taste sensations. It is, therefore, necessary to simulate the composition of conventional meat to increase consumer demand. As amino acids are believed to determine the overall taste of meat, analyzing the characteristics of the amino acid composition of conventional meat compared to cultured meat could help improve overall sensory perception.
Earlier research on the taste of cultured meat had to be based on assumptions due to a lack of sufficient experimental samples. But recent studies showed that using an electronic tongue system for small amounts of meat tissue could successfully analyze the sensory properties of cultured cells. The researchers, therefore, incorporated the electronic tongue system to assess the differences in the taste characteristics. The amino acid content of the muscle tissues was determined using an amino acid analyzer.
The overall taste of amino acids is attributed to a combination of basic tastes, such as sourness, sweetness, saltiness, bitterness, and umami. Aside from similar saltiness values, the researchers detected significant differences between the samples. Both conventional chicken and beef samples had higher umami, bitterness, and sourness values than cultured meat. Correlating to the differences in taste intensities, the content levels of specific amino acids linked to the characteristic meat taste, such as glutamic acid and aspartic acid, also differed.
In order to enhance the taste of cultured meat, the scientists suggested developing a cell culture method aimed at intensifying the umami and bitterness values along with adjusting the growth medium composition to more closely simulate the make of animal muscle tissue.
Source: Journal Food Science of Animal Resources