6 min
Steakholder Foods
Feb 1, 2023

3D Printed Meat

3D printed meat offers a sustainable and precise alternative to conventional meat production.

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If you're a foodie who is also interested in food industry trends, you may have heard of a concept called 3D printed meat. Much like its name suggests, 3D printed meat is meat that is produced via a 3D bio-printer. But it's actually much more than that. This article delves into the specifics.  

What is 3D Printed Meat?

To create a cut of meat via 3D printing, animal cells are transformed into bio-ink and printed in accordance with a specific design scheme that layers all of the ingredients together to look and taste like a steak (or any other meat product).

 To gain a better understanding of this innovative concept, let's use a cut of steak as an example. An average steak is made of a very complex network of tissues, which are structured in a certain way. No two traditional steaks are the same. But with 3D printing technology, we can design the exact steak we want to eat – and create it.

 In fact, a 3D printed steak can recreate a complex tissue pattern and structure, including specific parameters such as steak size, cut thickness and fat percentage. If we want, we can ask the 3D printer to reprint the same steak, time and time again. This is the beauty of 3D printed meat. Its consistency and uniformity are very advantageous to both manufacturers and consumers.

The Hype Around 3D Printed Meat​

There is an enormous buzz around 3D printed meat, plant-based meat, and cultivated meat in particular, which is getting more and more acceptance. This hype is not reserved for industry circles alone. If you love meat, you've probably heard of 3D printed meat and its vast potential for positive change.

The main reason for the interest surrounding 3D printed meat is the fact that as a global society, we cannot allow ourselves to be content with traditionally produced meat anymore. For starters, the global population is growing at an accelerated rate, and alternative solutions are needed to feed billions of people worldwide. The growth of the traditional meat industry is not the solution, not only because it won't be enough, but primarily because of the stress this growth would place on the world's natural resources – especially land, water and farm animals. In simple words, the production of the traditional industry simply won't be able to meet the ground demand.

It is time for the food industry to shift its focus from the traditional to the innovative so that we can feed everyone on the planet for decades to come while coexisting with our world's finite natural resources. Slaughter-free 3D printed meat presents humanity with an exciting opportunity for change. The possibilities are limitless.

What Is 3D Printed Meat Made Of?

At Steakholder Foods, our 3D printed meat is made of real animal cells, derived from tissue samples, and cultivated inside a bioreactor. 3D printed meat is made of fat and muscle cells – just like a regular cut of meat. It's the same thing, except for the slaughter-free process, which is radically different from traditional meat production. It is worth noting that 3D printed meat can also be made as a hybrid product using both plant-based ingredients and cultivated ingredients.

Steakholder Foods 3D meat printer

Is the Meat Printed with a 3D Meat Printer?

3D printing technology isn’t new. By now, you've probably heard of the amazing things printed over the years by 3D printers – from sculptures and plastic pipes to cakes and even boats.

So, it should come as no surprise that 3D printers can print steaks, fish, and any other form of structured meat products. 3D printers have long been able to print cell-based products and components. This process is called bioprinting. At Steakholder Foods, we created the first high throughput bioprinter that can print at a very high pace, with extreme precision and while keeping the cell viable throughout the process. We start off by creating bio-ink from the cell lines we have carefully selected for this task. We then load the bio-ink into the 3D printer, send a command to start printing, and voilà – an entire cut of meat is printed in less than a minute.

After the steak is printed, it isn’t quite ready yet. It must mature in an incubator for a few weeks so that the cells can form the fat and muscle tissues. Once that happens, the steak is ready to hit the grill!

What Does 3D Printed Meat Taste Like?

Just like meat! Apart from the production process, which is lab-based and not slaughter-based, you can expect your 3D printed steak to taste just like the steaks you're used to. In fact, since we can control every parameter that affects meat taste and texture with utmost precision, you can be certain that your juicy cut will be absolutely delicious.

 Is 3D Meat Healthy?

From a nutritional standpoint, 3D meat is identical to conventional meat. But in many ways, 3D printed meat is healthier than meat produced via traditional methods. First of all, 3D printed meat is cultivated in a sterile and highly controlled laboratory environment, which leaves a very slim chance for any pathogens to come in contact with the product. In addition, cultivated meat does not contain any remnants of antibiotics or growth hormones, which are sometimes found in animals destined for slaughter. In the future, we will also be able to tailor-make the steaks to fit specific needs such as more Omega, or less cholesterol – the options are limitless!

3D steak printing in action by Steakholder Foods

Can Vegans Eat 3D Printed Meat?

3D printed meat is based on animal cells but does not harm or hurt the animal at any stage of production – and is exactly like traditional meat in every aspect except for production. If a vegan will eat it or not stems from the reason that person chose a vegan diet. ,

People who have adopted a vegan lifestyle for ethical reasons would love to enjoy a juicy steak if they were certain that it was cruelty-free and environmentally sustainable. 3D printed meat can be a great option for them, as it does not contradict their values or beliefs.

Vegans who shy away from meat consumption because they don’t like the taste or for health-related reasons, will probably avoid 3D printed meat.

3D Printed Meat in Israel

At Steakholder Foods, we're firm believers in the promise that cultivated meat can bring to the food industry – and humanity as a whole. We're excited about 3D printed meat, and our technology is geared to produce perfect cuts of meat via 3D printing, in the most efficient, controlled and precise way possible.

Just think about it this way: it takes years to deliver a traditional steak from the farm to your table. The process is not only based on animal slaughter, but its high carbon footprint is very unfriendly to the environment. A 3D printed steak, on the other hand, will take us a mere few weeks to produce. There won't be any animal breeding, grazing or slaughter involved – and the carbon footprint will be significantly lower. As for the beloved flavor and texture, they will remain unchanged. In our opinion, this is a future worth looking forward to.  

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