3D-printed food has arrived. With options coming to the marketplace from a variety of companies, those high-capacity printers from a few years ago that took eight hours to produce a small, basic shape have evolved into a viable, mass-produced food option.
Giuseppe Scionti, Italian bioengineer with a PhD in biomedicine, has further advanced printed technology with the invention of a plant-based meat substitute. With this innovation in hand, he created Novameat, a company intent on commercialization of the product to make it available in all markets.
With plenty of meat substitutes on the market, Novameat focuses on texture. Where others have made a chicken nugget or hamburger patty alternative, Scionti has taken it a step further with tissue engineering and bioprinting to create the fibrous texture associated with steak and other meats.
In addition to offering the chewy characteristic of meat, Novameat contains the same levels of protein, amino acids, vitamins and minerals contained in red meat but stems entirely from natural, plant-based ingredients. These ingredients are formulated into a paste, which is fed through the printer to create the end product.
The inspiration of Novameat is two-fold. Firstly, Scionti is concerned about the sustainability of the planet. With the newest research pointing fingers at the cattle industry, it’s relatively undisputed that the water and land consumption to support livestock production is resource-prohibitive. In short, Scionti believes that the earth needs an alternative to traditional beef products.
Secondly, Giuseppe believes that 3D-printed meat substitutes can go a long way in the efforts to curb world-hunger and food-supply shortages. Novameat can be sterilized and packaged for long transports and does not require refrigeration, making it a food supply option for the deepest corners of the planet. One particularly sci-fi component of this technology is the potential to inject the food with medicines needed to treat endemic disease in those remote locations.
The technology not only provides the opportunity to emulate steak, but other foods as well, such as chicken. In addition, the process is scalable, reaching production of 200 grams of meat an hour at a cost of 4 euros.
Images via Novameat