Plant-based Meat Tacos

Catherine Lamb wrote . . . . . . . . .

Beyond Meat announced that it’s teaming up with Del Taco to “beef up” their menu.

The plant-based meat startup will launch two branded tacos: the Beyond Avocado Taco (which is vegan), and the Beyond Taco (which is just vegetarian). Judging from photos, they look like hard shell tacos with Beyond crumbles, lettuce, and tomatoes — the vegan option also has an avocado slice, while the vegetarian one has cheese. Customers can also sub Beyond Meat into any other Del Taco dishes (burritos, nachos, etc.). I wasn’t able to find any pricing information online, but as customers are allowed to swap in Beyond, I’m assuming that it’s on par with the meatier options.

This marks the plant-based meat company’s first partnership with a fast-food chain, and, according to Beyond Meat’s press release, it’s also the first time a Mexican fast-food restaurant will serve plant-based meat.

The announcement comes just a few weeks after Impossible Foods rolled out their vegan “bleeding” burgers to White Castles nationwide. It doesn’t take a genius to see that Beyond Meat, which typically markets itself directly to consumers in supermarket aisles, is now trying to establish itself as a strong player in the plant-based B2B market — for all price points.

While their products are already available in over 2,000 restaurants, their Del Taco launch is their first fast-food drive-through partnership in the U.S. (they’re already available in Canada’s A&W chain). We’ll see if the company can keep up with the high demand of quick service restaurants (QSRs), especially if they decide to offer Beyond Meat at all 564 Del Taco restaurants nationwide.

The Beyond Meat tacos will be available in two California Del Taco locations, one in Santa Monica and the other in Culver City.

Source: The Spoon


Taste Test of the Sausage Made with Cell-cultured Meat

Erin Brodwin wrote . . . . . . . . .

For the first time in the roughly five years since a smattering of researchers and companies began talking about making real meat without slaughtering animals, one startup is letting people see how its sausage gets made.

Well, almost. On Monday evening, the startup, called New Age Meats, let a handful of journalists and potential investors taste its prototype product — a pork sausage made from many of the same ingredients in the kind of breakfast sausage you’d buy at the store, such as pork muscle and fat, spices, sausage, casing, and vegetable stock.

But unlike other breakfast sausages, this meat was made from animal cells, without killing any actual animals.

Creating this kind of meat has been the primary objective of several startups ever since Dutch scientist Mark Post became the first person in the world to make a beef burger from cow cells in 2013. Since then, at least six companies have emerged with the aim of slashing food waste and emissions while reducing animal suffering and improving human health. All of them are working on transforming meat or fish cells into edible flesh.

At a brewery in San Francisco, New Age Meat’s team cooked and doled out the first samples of its farm-free (also known as “cell-based” or “cultured”) meat. Here’s what it was like.

Sausage without slaughter

On Monday evening, New Age Meats co-founders Brian Spears and Andra Necula served three freshly-cooked pork sausage links made using fat and muscle cells generated from a single sample of a live pig named Jessie (after the street where their headquarters is located in San Francisco).

The company started just two months ago with $250,000 in seed funding from IndieBio, the biotech-focused accelerator that also gave cultured meat startup Memphis Meats its start.

“We really thought: do we want to invest in another cultured meat startup?” Arvind Gupta, IndieBio’s co-founder, told Business Insider. “But after we met the team and saw what they could do, we had to.”

“This is the most product and the fastest production from any cultured meat startup we’ve seen so far,” Gupta said.

As Spears, a chemical engineer by training, and Necula, a cell biologist, watched, the sausage sizzled in a pan with a little grapeseed oil. Slowly, it began to brown on each side like conventional sausage. The room filled with the smell of breakfast meat. After a few minutes — just before the sausage casing began to blister — we dug into our bite-sized samples.

It tasted like meat. Then again, it is meat.

The texture was distinctly sausage-like. After I’d chewed my bite, I wasn’t sure I would have been able to tell the difference between this pork sausage and any other. Perhaps it was a little drier, a little more crumbly? It was hard to tell from just one bite, but I was pretty sure there were no glaring differences.

An uphill battle for the future of meat

Despite their hard work, Spears and Necula face a long road ahead. Meat made in labs is coming, as most of the startups in the space continue to promise, but getting the products out of the lab and into restaurants will take time.

Back in 2013, when Dutch scientist Mark Post became the first person in the world to make a beef burger from cow cells, the patty cost $330,000 to produce. Getting that down to a price consumers would be willing to pay at a restaurant is still at least 5 to 10 years away, according to several CEOs of the leading companies in the space.

Part of the cost problem has to do with the food these startups are feeding their farm-free animal cells. Many companies still use something called fetal bovine serum (FBS), a standard and relatively inexpensive lab medium made from the blood of pregnant slaughtered cows. To live up to their goal of replacing animal slaughter, these startups will need to find something new and slaughter-free that costs the same or less.

New Age Meats’ sausages were made using FBS, but Spears told Business Insider he and Necula were working on going serum-free within the next couple of months.

Another issue is texture.

Making a sausage, patty, fish cake, or any other product that combines several ingredients with ground meat or seafood is nowhere near as difficult as mimicking the complex texture and flavor of a steak or a chicken breast. To do that, startups will likely need to take many of their cues from regenerative medicine, where scientists strive to heal or grow real human tissues and organs. Applying those tools to the world of cultured meat could result in the first farm-free products that chew, slice, and taste like a traditional steak or thigh.

For this reason, Necula said she and Spears planned to continue working in the realm of sausage-like items, but they’re exploring options that include products made with beef, pork, and crab.

Several other startups appear to be making headway on their first cultured meat products as well.

The CEO of Just, a Silicon Valley startup formerly known as Hampton Creek, recently tweeted a photo that appeared to show a prototype of its first cultured chicken nuggets; Memphis Meats, the Silicon Valley startup that claimed it made the first lab-grown chicken and duck products in 2017, invited this reporter to a tasting of its products before the year’s end.

New Age Meats made history with the first semi-public tasting of its sausage on Monday.

“We think we’ll be ready to go to market in a couple years,” Spears said.

Source : Business Insider

Smog Might Cloud Your Memory

Serena Gordon wrote . . . . . . . . .

The very air you breathe may make you vulnerable to developing dementia, a new study suggests.

British researchers found that people exposed to higher levels of air pollution had 40 percent higher odds of developing dementia.

“We found that older patients across greater London who were living in areas with higher air pollution were more likely to be diagnosed with dementia in subsequent years,” said study author Iain Carey. He’s a senior lecturer in epidemiology at the University of London.

Carey said the increased risk persisted even after his team accounted for other factors that might increase dementia, such as smoking and diabetes.

However, the researchers aren’t suggesting that people need to abandon cities.

“Since this is an observational study, any findings need to be treated with caution. It only tells us there may be a possible link between air pollution and dementia, and more research is needed to confirm and understand this,” Carey said.

Dementia is a catch-all term for a number of brain disorders that cause trouble with memory and thinking. The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, according to the U.S.-based Alzheimer’s Association.

The second most common form of dementia is called vascular dementia. This occurs when the brain is deprived of blood flow and oxygen due to other conditions, such as a stroke or a number of small strokes, the Alzheimer’s Association explained.

The study focused on people who were eventually diagnosed with these two forms of dementia.

The researchers began by reviewing the records of nearly 131,000 adults registered with 75 general physician practices in the London area. Carey said all of the locations were in urban areas.

At the start of the study, all of the participants were between the ages of 50 and 79. None had been diagnosed with dementia.

The researchers then estimated each person’s annual exposure to air pollution, such as nitrogen dioxide, particulate matter and ozone. They also estimated the participants’ proximity to heavy traffic.

After an average follow-up of seven years, almost 2,200 people — or nearly 2 percent of the total group — had been diagnosed with dementia.

Those living in the areas with the highest levels of nitrogen dioxide compared to those living with the lowest exposure had a 40 percent increased risk of developing dementia, the study found. The odds of an Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis was 50 percent higher for people living with the highest exposure to nitrogen dioxide.

Similar increases in risk were also seen for high levels of particulate matter. For other measures, such as ozone and distance to heavy traffic, the researchers said there was less evidence of any links.

Carey said it’s not clear why air pollution appears to be linked to dementia. He noted that other research has suggested that children’s brain development may be affected by pollution.

Heather Snyder, senior director of medical and scientific operations for the Alzheimer’s Association, said this study “raises a lot of interesting questions.” But she also said it’s too soon to speculate how pollution might play a role in dementia.

“Dementia is complex and there are lots of things that may contribute to dementia risk. I don’t think you can draw any conclusions from this study,” Snyder said.

Dr. Bruce Silverman, a neurologist at Ascension Providence Hospital in Southfield, Mich., also thought it was too early to make any recommendations based on this study. He also noted that dementia occurs in people living all over — in urban, suburban and rural areas.

But he said if you start looking at factors that might cause premature death of nerve cells in the brain, “living in an environment that is toxic to those cells from pollution is probably not healthy.”

Both Snyder and Silverman recommended that if people are concerned about dementia, there are steps they can take to help prevent the disorder, or to potentially help slow the progress of dementia if you already have it.

Steps that both experts recommended included getting regular exercise, eating a healthy diet low in saturated fat with plenty of vegetables and fruits, getting adequate sleep, and keeping your brain engaged with things like puzzles, new learning and social activities.

The study was published in the BMJ.

Source: HealthDay

Today’s Comic

New Burger from McDonalds in Japan

Moon Light Burger (月光バーガー)

The burger will be available for a limited time period for 490 yen (tax included).

What Time Is It in Your Body?

Marla Paul wrote . . . . . . . . .

The first simple blood test to identify your body’s precise internal time clock as compared to the external time has been developed by Northwestern Medicine scientists.

The test, TimeSignature – which requires only two blood draws – can tell physicians and researchers the time in your body despite the time in the external world. For instance, even if it’s 8 a.m. in the external world, it might be 6 a.m. in your body.

“This is a much more precise and sophisticated measurement than identifying whether you are a morning lark or an night owl,” said lead author Rosemary Braun, assistant professor of preventive medicine (biostatistics) at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “We can assess a person’s biological clock to within 1.5 hours.

“Various groups have tried to get at internal circadian time from a blood test, but nothing has been as accurate or as easy to use as TimeSignature,” Braun said.

Previously, measurements this precise could only be achieved through a costly and laborious process of taking samples every hour over a span of multiple hours.

The paper was published in the journal PNAS.

Processes in nearly every tissue and organ system in the body are orchestrated by an internal biological clock, which directs circadian rhythm, such as the sleep-wake cycle. Some individuals’ internal clocks are in sync with external time but and others are out of sync and considered misaligned.

The new test for the first time will offer researchers the opportunity to easily examine the impact of misaligned circadian clocks in a range of diseases from heart disease to diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. When the blood test eventually becomes clinically available, it also will provide doctors with a measurement of an individual’s internal biological clock to guide medication dosing at the most effective time for his or her body.

The software and algorithm are available for free to other researchers so they can assess physiological time in a person’s body. Northwestern has filed for a patent on the blood test.

“This is really an integral part of personalized medicine,” said coauthor Dr. Phyllis Zee, chief of sleep medicine in neurology at Feinberg and a Northwestern Medicine neurologist. “So many drugs have optimal times for dosing. Knowing what time it is in your body is critical to getting the most effective benefits. The best time for you to take the blood pressure drug or the chemotherapy or radiation may be different from somebody else.”

Zee also is the Benjamin and Virginia T. Boshes Professor of Neurology.

The test measures 40 different gene expression markers in the blood and can be taken any time of day, regardless of whether the patient had a good night’s sleep or was up all night with a baby. It is based on an algorithm developed by Braun and colleagues by drawing subjects’ blood every two hours and examining which genes were higher or lower at certain times of day. Scientists also used gene expression data from studies conducted at four other centers.

The scientists then developed a novel machine-learning method that was used to train a computer to predict the time of day based on patterns in these gene expression measurements. Out of about 20,000 genes measured, these 40 emerged with the strongest signal.

“Timing is everything,” said study coauthor Ravi Allada, a professor of neurobiology at Northwestern’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. “We know if you have disruption of your internal clock, it can predispose you to a range of diseases. Virtually every tissue and organ system are governed by circadian rhythm.

“Before we didn’t have a clinically feasible way of assessing the clock in healthy people and people with disease. Now we can see if a disrupted clock correlates with various diseases and, more importantly, if it can predict who is going to get sick.?”

A link between circadian misalignment and diabetes, obesity, depression, heart disease and asthma has been identified in preclinical research by scientist Joe Bass, chief of endocrinology, metabolism and molecular medicine at Feinberg.

Down the road, Zee envisions improving health and treating disease by aligning people’s circadian clocks that are out of sync with external time.

“Circadian timing is a modifiable risk factor for improving cognitive health, but if we can’t measure it, it’s difficult to know if we’ve made the right diagnosis,” Zee said. “Now we can measure it just like a lipid level.”

The paper is titled “A Universal Method for Robust Detection of Circadian State from Gene Expression.” Other Northwestern coauthors include William L. Kath of the McCormick School of Engineering and Sabra M. Abbott and Kathryn J. Reid of Feinberg.

Source : Northweatern University