May 3, 2017 | By Benedict

Meat & Livestock Australia, a not-for-profit red meat research organization, has unveiled a selection of 3D printed beef products that it says could be the future of red meat. The organization used a byFlow 3D printer from the Netherlands to create its intricately shaped morsels.

When we first discovered what Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) wanted to do with 3D printed meat last year, we were naturally quite curious. Would 3D printing produce a tasty beef product? And would anyone be prepared to eat it?

Excitingly, the nonprofit has now provided a clearer picture of what it thinks 3D printed meat products could look like—by cooking them up at a public showcase.

The MLA wasn’t alone in its meat-making adventure, either. Though it devised the offal-based printing idea on its own, the organization used a food-safe 3D printer from Dutch 3D printing company byFlow. These guys might not be household names yet, but their achievements include making a five-course meal using a 3D printer, so they clearly know a thing or two about 3D printing food.

The treats themselves were prepared by MLA chef Sam Burke, who turned the 3D printed pieces into both canapés and meals. The 3D printed beef elements were complemented by edible flowers, squid-flavoured tapioca shards, and avocado smears.

The 3D printed meat products were exhibited yesterday at Monash University in Australia. There, researchers demonstrated how so-called “secondary” cuts of beef can be turned into relatively desirable foodstuffs, including elegantly shaped swirls and patties.

Of course, some might see this work as little more than novelty, but MLA is deadly serious about using 3D printing to create the next generation of meat products.

byFlow's Frits Hoff and MLA chef Sam Burke

(Image: Stuart McEvoy)

“This is real; this is happening now,” said MLA Tomorrow’s Food manager Michael Lee. “We are not saying this technology will replace all sausages and steaks, but that on some occasions 3D printed meat will be available and sometimes preferable.”

“This may also present a value opportunity,” Lee added. “Currently one-third of each animal ends up as low-value burger trimmings for retailers like McDonald’s—why not see if this new technology gives us the opportunity to create more value for our farmers?”

If people are going to bite for MLA’s 3D printed meat, it’s this value aspect that really needs to deliver. And according to the researchers, the numbers add up handsomely.

Lee said that while high-quality Australian steak can be exported for up to 50 AUD per kilo, mince is far less profitable. But if farmers were to turn low-value meat into a 3D printable form, Lee reckons they could charge as much as 300 AUD per kilo for it. That’s a huge amount of money for the kind of meat that usually gets sold off in bulk to fast food joints.

Interestingly, MLA and byFlow say that “bio-synthesized” meat—non-organic stuff made in a petri dish from from chains of peptides—could also be 3D printed. This would be great news for vegetarians and animal rights activists, though MLA says that demand for “real” meat currently has the edge.

“What we are finding in Europe is a preference for ‘real’ 3D printed food over fake or bio-synthesized food,” said ByFlow business development manager Frits Hoff. “People definitely want natural food ingredients (in the cartridge) with no additives.” 

But Hoff believes there is hope yet for biosynthesized meat, and demand for this kind of food will only increase as technology for making it improves.

“[The] level of acceptance may change as the price of synthesized food comes down and the taste improves,” Hoff said. “Two years ago the first synthesized meat hamburgers cost $250,000 each to produce and now are 10. So who knows when it will be cheap enough for McDonald’s to look at synthetic meat proteins using 3D printers?”

MLA initially said that 3D printed meat products would be best suited to elderly eaters who have trouble chewing, though this latest showcase suggests the organization is eyeing up a wider market for these products.



Posted in 3D Printing Technology



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Donna wrote at 5/5/2017 6:21:17 AM:

Could this help to feed the millions of starving people in the world.

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