High Quality, Lab-Made, 3-D Printed Wagyu Beef

In Japan, a group of scientists have used 3-D printing technologies to create wagyu beef; a method that’s a more sustainable alternative to the highly popular steak and other variations of meat. It’s important to note that this alternative will also be much more expensive but would obviously require fewer cows and farms.

Michiya Matsusaki, a professor of applied chemistry at Osaka University who co-wrote a recent piece about the printing technique, says “With 3D printing, [they] can achieve the marbling this cut of steak is known for, using more sustainable methods.” In order to create this wagyu alternative in a lab, the scientists have to extract two types of cells from the inside cheeks of cows. They’re referred to as satellite cells and are responsible for muscle growth (the red part of the steak). Adipose stem cells are then taken from the cow’s fat to make the ‘beef’s’ veins and fat, which is commonly known as marbling.

Using a method known as 3D bioprinting, the cells taken from the cow are then combined with artificial tendon tissue made of collagen to make the rolls of wagyu beef fiber. These rolls are then pieced together by-hand in order to closely resemble what real wagyu beef looks like. A touch of red dye is applied as the finishing piece, and voila!

The beauty of this product outside the obvious climate-friendly approach is that consumers are able to fully customize their ‘beef’. “Households can decide, ‘I had a lot of oily food today, I want less fat on my wagyu,’ or ‘I feel like eating fatty meat,’” says Matsusaki.

If all goes according to plan, Matsusaki says the wagyu beef could ultimately be commercially available, albeit in small quantities, as soon as 2025, and said he’s eager to be the first to dig in.

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