A 4oz steak has been ‘lab-grown’ using a digital design file.
Israeli firm MeaTech 3D Ltd. cultivated the bio-printed steak using real fat and muscle cells. The cells were produced using an advanced process that starts by isolating ethically harvested bovine stem cells from living tissue samples and multiplying them.
Once cellular mass was reached, the structures of the stem cells were formulated into bio-inks compatible with MeaTech’s 3D bio-printer. The printed product was placed in an incubator to mature, where the stem cells were differentiated into fat and muscle cells to develop into fat and muscle tissue, thus forming the steak.
The meat is said to look, taste, smell and feel like the farmed variety.
MeaTech believes this breakthrough will revolutionise farming, as a replacement for conventional steak that maximises cell-based content rather than non-meat ingredients. The steak comprises real, living muscle and fat cells, and doesn’t contain any soy or pea protein typically used in plant-based alternatives.
The firm is now looking to improve its bioprinting and cultivation technologies to produce a sustainable source of cultivated meat that mirrors the key characteristics of farm-raised, premium steak.
The hope is also that it will simplify meat production and the supply chain. Current farming methods account for nearly 15 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions, making livestock-rearing a huge contribution to climate change.
The process for cultivated steak is also a fraction of the time for a conventional steak, which takes 18 months to reach the market. It is designed as ‘clean meat’ without the same bacterial contamination risk which typically causes spoilage, so is anticipated to have a longer shelf life. The process is also fully automated.
MeaTech is also developing advanced technologies to produce cell-based alternative protein products, including cell lines for beef, pork and chicken.