Brazil’s state-owned Embrapa has developed a farmed chicken and cell biobank – vegetarian

The Swine and Poultry Unit of the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa), which is conducting a study on farmed chickens, announced that it is developing a chicken breast fillet prototype that should be ready for nutritional and sensory analysis by the end of 2023.

Embrapa, established by the country’s federal government in 1973 for the sustainable development of Brazilian agriculture, is essential to Brazil’s poultry and swine production.

With new challenges for sustainable development, food safety, meat quality, production traceability, antimicrobial restrictions, environmental protection and animal welfare, the research organization is taking farmed meat R&D as part of its agenda.

A river in the forest of Brazil
© Embrapa

A biobank and a boneless chicken fillet

Embrapa considers chicken meat to be one of the most versatile proteins and one of the most nutritious foods consumed across the country; Thus, it aims to create a sustainable solution for its production.

According to the project’s lead researcher Vivian Fedorn, the aim of the research is to provide two solutions for the cultured chicken process: to develop a “method to obtain optimized culture conditions for the bacteria” and to produce a product, which will be a boneless chicken breast.

In addition to research, the team had to focus on creating a biobank of chicken cells to reduce the need for repeated generations of primary cell cultures. Embrapa said the bank will allow the cell-based industry to work with stable, reproducible and consistent cell lines when developing cultured meat products. Until now, the company has been using chicken cells from its genetic stock.

Fedorn commented: “To get the final product, which resembles a boneless chicken fillet, we still have to cover a research path that the team hopes to still achieve by 2023.”

Embrapa’s research into the development of alternative proteins in Brazil was also the subject of the Good Food Institute’s Competitive Research Grant Request for Proposal (RFP).

Embrapa's white poultry
© Embrapa FB

Meat is grown in Brazil

Brazil – the world’s largest beef exporter and the second largest beef producer after the United States – has no laws regarding farmed meat. However, the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAPA) is set to formulate the Alternative Protein National Plan (PNPA), which will contemplate production methods and regulations for plant-based, fermentation and cellular agriculture.

Some companies are interested in developing farmed meat in Brazil. BRF, a global Brazilian meat and food company, intends to bring Alef’s farmed beef products throughout Brazil. JBS, which has an R&D center in the country, and Cellva Ingredients are investing in research to develop cultured meat and ingredients such as cultured pork fat. But Fedorn says that “most focus on unstructured products, like hamburgers, as opposed to requiring the structure of a chicken breast, like we’re trying to do. Because the process is more complicated, we still have a ways to go.”

“Through this proposal of innovative food, Brazil can contribute to meat production, and Embrapa can offer a biobank, supporting existing companies or startups that want to introduce products to the market,” concluded Federon.

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