South Korea’s CellMEAT Makes Fetal Bovine Serum-Free Cell Culture Media For 100% Ethical Cultivated Meat

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CellMEAT has unveiled its fetal bovine serum (FBS)-free cell culture medium. The product will help drive down production costs and circumnavigate ethical concerns within the cultivated meat industry. The company claims that others worldwide are attempting to bring a similar concept to fruition quickly.

South Korea’s CellMeat was selected as a participant in the Tech Incubator Program for Startups in 2019. Recognised for its tech developments that could lead to cultivated meat production, in 2021, it was nominated to be part of a joint research team investigating muscle stem cells for the same industry. Now, the company has created an FBS-free cell culture medium that has global implications.

Continued culture progress

The newly available culture is most likely the result of R&D carried out after a successful pre-Series A funding round earlier this year. Plans were in place to use the investment for investigations into potential cost-saving initiatives. Cell-based protein refining was cited as well. The new medium has been created by recombining the contents of amino acids, vitamins, carbonates, and inorganic salts based on nutritional preference for each cell line.

“The development of CSF-A1, a serum-free cell-culture medium exclusively for cultivated meat by CellMEAT, is very encouraging,” said CellMeat CEO Giljun Park. “The meaning of our serum-free cell-culture method exclusively for cultivated meat is distinct from simply using it to maintain cell viability. Our research shows that CellMEAT can grow cells faster (about 250 percent) when compared with the currently commercially available serum-free culture medium or traditional cell-culture medium using fetal bovine serum.”

Park went on to suggest that the development could allow South Korea’s cultivated meat industry to begin competing in earnest with more heavily funded parts of the world. The U.S. and Israel were used as examples. 

Waving goodbye to FBS

FBS was widely adopted at the beginning of cultivated technology. Now, it is actively being removed from the equation. The main scientific concern is that it can introduce a lot of variability into cell culture systems. Wider than this, however, is the ethical constraint of procuring FBS from unborn cows. Widespread advice adheres to the idea that FBS use should be limited or eradicated altogether. 

Korea’s food tech revolution

CellMEAT is not alone in trying to further Korea’s influence in the cultivated meat and alternative protein sectors. A number of companies are furthering the message of meat without animal suffering.

SeaWith is part of the cultivated meat movement. The startup has vowed to bring its products to South Korean restaurants by the end of 2022. Real meat without the animals is what SeaWith claims to be developing, to tempt meat-eaters away from environmentally damaging conventional options. 

On the plant-based side, Zikoon has released Unlimeat, a vegan sliced beef brand made from upcycled grain. The company recently announced it was planning to build one of the largest plant-based meat factories in Asia. Alongside beef analogues it also makes vegan cheese.

Pulmuone is also making moves, bringing plant-based meats to market. The releases are a significant move away from its soybean line that is well known in Asia. It plans to release more than 20 lines over the next few years.

All images courtesy of Unsplash.


  • Amy Buxton

    A long-term committed ethical vegan and formerly Green Queen's resident plant-based reporter, Amy juggles raising a family and maintaining her editorial career, while also campaigning for increased mental health awareness in the professional world. Known for her love of searing honesty, in addition to recipe developing, animal welfare and (often lacklustre) attempts at handicrafts, she’s hands-on and guided by her veganism in all aspects of life. She’s also extremely proud to be raising a next-generation vegan baby.

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