To print a steak using a 3D bioprinter? This is no sci-fi: rather, it is a patented project launched by Giuseppe Scionti, an Italian biomedicine researcher at the University of Barcelona. Two prototypes have already been made - one of a chicken breast and one of a beefsteak - using biomaterials such as vegetable proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and vegetable fats that have the fibrous consistency of animal meat and contain no GMOs. In this first patent phase, printing 100 grams of this meat alternative takes half an hour and costs 2 euros, although the price will go down as volume increases.
Visually, as reported by Scionti to El Pais, the 3D steak could use a little extra work in order to look more like the real thing: “We need to adapt the 3D models to make them more complex, to simulate the different components of meat, from muscles to tissues and fat.”
The Italian researcher’s objective, which is shared by similar projects overseas like Impossible Burger or Beyond Meat (though both these projects do not use 3D printers), is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions deriving from intensive livestock; yet, what most attracts FAO’s attention to Scionti’s project is the idea of remedying the shortage of components such as minerals, vitamins or essential amino acids in some rural areas of the planet.
We are talking about a research field that offers and will offer very interesting ideas for the future, even though we doubt many people are currently willing to replace their grilled T-bone steak with a 3D steak!