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A Company Wants To Turn Celebrities Into Lab-Grown Salami – And It's Perfectly Possible

James Felton

James Felton

Senior Staff Writer

clockJan 18 2022, 12:08 UTC
A celebrity on the meat-maker's wish list.

A celebrity on the meat-maker's wish list. Image credit: Bakounine/Shutterstock.com

Ever wondered what Kanye West or Ellen DeGeneres tastes like? Well, there's a lab meat company out there who is just as curious about the forbidden meat (celebrities) as you are. 

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"BiteLabs produces fine artisanal salami from meat that has been lab-grown from celebrity tissue samples," the company says on its website.

"Today, In-Vitro meat production is close to becoming a reality, offering highly controllable meat production without the animal cruelty, waste, and environmental impacts of industrial farming. But this process can offer so much more than replicas of beef and pork," BiteLabs says.

And by "so much more" they mean "we would like to collect myosatellite cells from celebrities and then turn them into salami". The firm even has social share buttons to make it easy for you to send a (vaguely threatening) request to the celebrity you would like to sausage.

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We're going to pause here and say yes, we definitely thought this was a hoax, or perhaps a satire of tech start-ups, but if the company's earnest interviews with VICE and Slate are anything to go by, they are serious about going through with it.

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"To develop Celebrity Meat, we’re working with a group of bio-engineers and food designers, most of which have requested to remain anonymous due to the controversial nature of the product," Kevin from BiteLabs told Slate.

"We’ve gotten some responses from people offering us biopsies, but no one on the level of our big 4 yet. Most of the responses have been very positive, but of course some people are a bit uncomfortable with idea of BiteLabs – we think that’s only to be expected when we talk about pushing the boundaries of tech and society."

The company has thought far enough ahead to plan potential recipes, should the celebrities be up for their cells being grown and turned into mass-produced sausages. 

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"The JLaw salami will be complemented by a mixture of rabbit and pork," BiteLab says. "A charming and confident flavor profile, the JLaw salami is coarse ground in a rustic style, smoothed with notes of honey, and spiced with orange zest and ginger. Always surprising, this salami will never fail to entertain." 

Meanwhile "Hungarian paprika and Worcestershire [sauce] give Kanye an underlying smokiness, spiced up with hints of jalapeno," a meat they describe as best paired with bourbon.

The idea has obviously caused mixed feelings on social media, between people who are a bit grossed out by the idea and people who are cannibals.

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Recent research found that people are often grossed out by the idea of eating lab-cultured meat from traditionally eaten animals, so it's no surprise that there's an ick factor when it comes to consuming celebrities, even if they're named Jon Hamm. While it may be better for the environment, if you serve it at a buffet expect to have to ask "Babes are you OK? You've barely touched your Alec Baldwin salami."

The company itself touts the environmental benefits of eating, for example, the cast of Downton Abbey, writing that "celebrity meat production requires less than 1 percent of the amount of land needed for traditional farming." While a noble goal, and much more humane than growing Alec Baldwins on a farm, it appears that they have not had any success getting stars on board with the project as yet.

But if they were to get someone signed up, would it be possible? In short, yes. And it's even been done before.

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In 2020, a group of American scientists made some bite-sized samples of human meat for display at London's Design Museum. The team also proposed a DIY kit that you could use at home, where you swab your own cheek for a sample, then apply it to pre-grown scaffolds made from mushroom mycelium. Then, after about three months of incubation, you can eat yourself.

"We are not promoting 'eating ourselves' as a realistic solution that will fix humans' protein needs," the scientists behind it said at the time.

"We rather ask a question: what would be the sacrifices we need to make to be able to keep consuming meat at the pace that we are? In the future, who will be able to afford animal meat and who may have no other option than culturing meat from themselves?"

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So, the process itself is the easy part. What's difficult is getting celebrities who are willing to turn their cells into sausages.


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