Ever wondered if 3D-printing meat is a possibility? Well, scientists from Osaka University just answered that question by using stem cells from Wagyu cows to bioprint a cell-based alternative to Wagyu beef.
"Using the histological structure of Wagyu beef as a blueprint, we have developed a 3D-printing method that can produce tailor-made complex structures, like muscle fibres, fat and blood vessels," said Dong-Hee Kang, the lead author of the project's research paper.
The scientists made the Wagyu beef imitation by using bovine satellite cells and adipose-derived stem cells to create individual fibres such as fat, muscle and blood vessels through bioprinting. After that, the fibres were arranged in 3D to copy the structure of Wagyu beef.
According to senior author Michiya Matsusaki, the technology can be applied to customise the amount of fat and muscle in cultured meat.
"By improving this technology, it will be possible to not only reproduce complex meat structures, such as the beautiful sashi [marbling] of Wagyu beef but to also make subtle adjustments to the fat and muscle components," said Matsusaki.
This can benefit customers who have dietary restrictions or preferences limiting how much fat they can consume. Aside from that, the project can pave the way for more sustainable eating as it could widen the accessibility of cultured meat.
Similar strides have been made by Meati Foods, a U.S.-based start-up that harvests mycelium — the vegetative part of fungi found in mushrooms — to create plant-based imitations of steaks, chicken breasts, deli meat and jerky.
Caroline Bushnell, Vice President of Corporate Engagement of the Good Food Institute, stated that using mycelium to produce meat alternatives is a promising, new idea. The Good Food Institute is an organisation that promotes plant-based and cell-based protein.
In Singapore, Float Foods revealed Asia's first commercial plant-based substitute to a whole egg called OnlyEg. Using legume-based proteins, the company's research and development (R&D) team made a vegan egg that has a realistic egg yolk and egg white, producing a near-perfect replication of the chicken egg.
Even Nestlé has plans for alternative protein as it made a big investment in R&D for plant-based products such as burgers, schnitzels and meat mince. The company's Head of Global Product and Technology Development Thomas Hauser said that Nestlé also upgraded its R&D facilities in Singapore to assemble plant-based products.
"It is an important field, yes, it is a massive investment. Also in Singapore, we have created a team to cater to the specific needs. We have basically started to build up this competence in the past couple of years," stated Hauser.
Hauser did not share exactly how much was invested in plant-based products but he mentioned that the corporation dedicated CHF 1.6 billion (approximately S$23.62 billion) to R&D in totality and 300 researchers in Singapore to the aforementioned product lines.
Written by Sophia Lopez
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