Steak Made from Human Excrement: Is It Safe?
Fri, 17 Jun 2011 00:00 CDT
The grossest potential solution to the global food crisis: poop meat.
The mere idea is stomach-churning: creating food from human feces.
But researchers in Japan say they have done just that. They have synthesized meat from proteins found in human waste, according to news reports.
While the concept of chowing down on steak derived from poop may not exactly be appetizing, we wondered: is this meat safe?
In theory, yes, experts say. But the meat must be cooked, which will kill any noxious pathogens before you eat it.
“In the food safety world we say, ‘don’t eat poop,'” said Douglas Powell, a professor of food safety at Kansas State University. “But if you’re going to, make sure it’s cooked.”
The Japanese researchers isolated proteins from bacteria in sewage. The poop-meat concoction is prepared by extracting the basic elements of food – protein, carbohydrates and fats – and recombining them.
The meat is made from 63 percent proteins, 25 percent carbohydrates, 3 percent lipids and 9 percent minerals, according to Digital Trends. Soy protein is added to the mix to increase the flavor, and food coloring is used to make the product appear red.
The researchers came up with the idea after Tokyo Sewage asked them to figure out a use for the abundance of sewage in mud, Digital Trends says.
Powell is not familiar with the researchers’ method, but said he guesses that they are first heat-treating the sewage before they reap its resources.
Powell said the idea is not all that different from eating plants that have been fertilized with manure or other excrement, because the nutrients in the poop become part of the plants.
“Theoretically, there’s nothing wrong with this,” Powell said. “It could be quite safe to eat, but I’m sure there’s a yuck factor there,” he said.
However, Powell said there is the potential for cross contamination in the laboratory where the poop meat is made. That’s why it’s a good thing the meat will eventually be cooked.
But what if the final product was not going to be cooked?
“I wouldn’t touch it, ” Powell said.