If any of this is true, celebrity worship has now reached a bizarre level of cannibalism. A company called BiteLabs claims they plan to grow meat from celebrity tissue samples and use it to make artisanal salami. [see video]
The company lists Kanye West, Jennifer Lawrence, James Franco, and Ellen Degeneres as the celebrities it most wants to salamify and encourages visitors to tweet celebrities to get them to donate body cells.
“We mix celebrity and animal meats, grown in house through a proprietary culturing process, into curated salami blends.”the website reads. “Starting with biopsied myoblast cells, we grow our healthy, rich, meats in Bite Labs’ own bioreactors.”
The company wants to “prompt widespread discussion about bioethics, lab-grown meats and celebrity culture,” wrote “Kevin” from the Bite Labs team in an e-mail to the USA TODAY Network.
According to Kevin, this is real and the company is now gauging market interest. Bite Labs is asking people to tweet at their favorite celebrities to be a salami, using hashtag #EatCelebrityMeat.
Currently, Jennifer Lawrence is the most popular candidate for a celebrity salami, Kevin said.
Kevin said Bite Labs has started talks with New Harvest, a non-profit promoting research into alternatives to conventionally produced meat. New Harvest director Isha Datar said Bite Labs has not spoken with her organization yet, according to an email to USA TODAY Network.
Kevin said the ability to make in-vitro meat has been proven.
“Our primary goal right now is to create a public dialogue around the potential for commercially available lab-grown celebrity meat,” he wrote.
Here’s how it will work, according to the BiteLabs website.
A sample of tissue containing myosatellite cells (the type of cells that help repair and regrow damaged muscle) will be taken from a person during a biopsy. Those cells are multiplied in a lab using a medium that acts as an artificial blood to grow muscle.
Once the cells are mature enough, they will be ground and mixed with different kinds of meat, spices, fats and oils for flavor using one of the company’s “time-honored recipes for the creation of fine cured meats.” It will then be stuffed into casings, seasoned again then dry aged and cured before packaging for distribution.
Bitelabs urges the public’s help in getting celebrities on board. “BiteLabs is the future of celebrity consumption. Help us make some noise; Let’s tell the world we want to #EatCelebrityMeat!”
TIME contacted Bite Labs to see if this was a publicity stunt. Martin, the CEO, told TIME the following:
“Making celebrity meat a reality will all depend on our ability to generate public enthusiasm,”he wrote.
“We also want to prompt widespread discussion about bioethics, lab-grown meats, and celebrity culture ” this is very important to us. We think the cultural discussion around lab-grown meats and popular culture will acclimate people to the field. We’re treating it as a cultural precursor for when our product eventually hits production”