Scientists in Japan have engineered the first-ever 3D-printed chunk of wagyu beef.
The research team at Japan’s Osaka University used stem cells from wagyu cows to create the marbling structure. They then stacked the muscles, blood vessels and fat through 3D bioprinting to resemble the pricey piece of meat.
Though the printed ‘meat’ mirrors the conventional kind, it is not ready for human consumption just yet, as they have to experiment with “printing scalability, edibility of the culture and cell-printing-related materials.”
“Since the demonstrated cultured steak-like tissue is a small piece and inedible, further elaboration will therefore be required,” they said.
A conventional piece of wagyu beef can set people back an eye-watering $200 per pound Shutterstock / NotailGohan
Researcher Michiya Matsusaki said in a statement, “By improving this technology, it will be possible to not only reproduce complex meat structures, such as the beautiful marbling (sashi) of Wagyu beef but to also make subtle adjustments to the fat and muscle components.”
The scientists believe this is a step towards a more sustainable meat alternative in the future. Osaka University said in a press release that the innovative technology “may help usher in a more sustainable future with widely available cultured meat” as lab-printed ‘meat’ doesn’t produce greenhouse gas emissions, the same way that livestock farming does.
While it may be the first 3D-printed wagyu beef to be made, Aleph Farms and the Faculty of Biomedical Engineering at the Technion Israel Institute of Technology collaboratively bioprinted a ribeye steak using real cow cells.