3D Printed Meat: a Greener Way to Eat?

Steakholder Foods, an international deep-tech food company, is working to make the food industry more sustainable with its 3D printed meat.
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Steakholder Foods, an international deep-tech food company, is working to make the food industry more sustainable with its 3D printed meat. Image: Pixabay

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Sustainable meat alternatives are growing as people seek environmentally friendly options. Alternative proteins like 3D printed meat are set to rise from 2% of protein eaten to 11% by 2035. Compared to traditional meat production that emits methane, plant-based proteins will help cut these emissions quickly. Lab-grown meat or ground-up insects could reduce pressures on the planet by over 80%. We see egg whites being developed from lab-grown chicken cells, protein powders made from mushrooms or microbes and edible algae. All this is to make eating protein and meats more sustainable.

Steakholder Foods, an international deep-tech food company, is working to make the food industry more sustainable with its 3D printed meat. The company aims to tackle the meat industry’s greenhouse gas emissions, high levels of waste production and excessive water use. The meat they have printed is very high in nutritional content.

Creation of 3D printed meat has four steps:

  1. The food scientists will select animal stem cells that yield premium quality meat. The cells are placed in ideal growing and reproductive conditions.
  2. The cells are separated into muscle and fat cells, becoming the “bio-inks” necessary for 3D printed meat products.
  3. The bio-ink is placed into a 3D printing machine that produces the meat cuts based on the company’s designs. Steakholder Foods produces its 3D printed meat on an industrial scale, allowing them to produce tons of products daily. The process is extremely quick, as a full steak can be printed in less than half a minute.
  4. Once the product is printed, the “meat” is incubated for a few weeks, allowing the stem cells to differentiate into muscle and fat cells. The muscle fibres will form into the desired density and thickness prior to cooking.

Steakholder Foods’ 3D printed meat uses 96% less land, emits 93% less air pollution and uses 93% less freshwater compared to typical meat production. Their products also allow for slaughter-free food production, making them more ethical.

Over the past two years, the tech company has been partnering with companies from around the world to help grow the industry for 3D-printed meat. Their products include cultured poultry, seafood, mycoprotein, and beef products. Their more recent product is Omakase Beef Morsels which are highly marbled 3D- printed beef cuts that are made entirely of cultured muscle and fat cells.

Steakholder Foods is trying to bring its business into the United States in response to President Joe Biden’s announcement on the States’ support for cell-cultured food. The US can improve food security, drive agricultural innovation, address the climate crisis, and minimize energy use with cultivated meat.

US-based companies racing to bring the product to market include Memphis Meats: a California-based company backed by major investors such as Bill Gates and Richard Branson, and Modern Meadow: a New Jersey-based company developing lab-grown leather and meat products using 3D printing technology.

International companies focused on the US market include Redefine Meat: an Israeli company that has a US subsidiary and is focused on creating alternative meat products through 3D printing technology. Aleph Farms has a research partnership with a US-based food company to develop 3D printed meat products. Future Meat Technologies also has a US subsidiary focused on creating sustainable and ethical meat products through 3D printing and tissue engineering.

Cultivated meat (or 3D printed) is currently only available to consumers in Singapore, but once it receives FDA approval and passes the USDA tests, Steaakholder Foods and the others have a huge opportunity to change the meat industry and make it more sustainable. Their efforts will put less strain on the planet, reduce emissions, improve animal welfare, and help us reach our environmental goals and targets.

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