One of the most expensive meats in the world is Wagyu beef. The meat from Japanese cows reared to produce Wagyu is marbled with fat throughout the muscle. The end result is a succulent piece of meat that is unlike anything you may have tasted before.
Unfortunately, the raising of cattle for Wagyu isn’t exactly environmentally sustainable and may even deter some folks from even trying it.
In a bid to switch things up, scientists from Osaka University have 3D-bioprinted a meat alternative that closely resembles the king of steaks.
“Using the histological structure of Wagyu beef as a blueprint, we have developed a 3D-printing method that can produce tailor-made complex structures, like muscle fibers, fat, and blood vessels,” said Dong-Hee Kang, the lead author of the paper Engineered whole cut meat-like tissue by the assembly of cell fibers using tendon-gel integrated bioprinting in a press release.
The team at Osaka University used bovine satellite cells and adipose-derived stem cells to create the muscle, fat and blood vessels. Then, with 3D printing these fibers were arranged in the way you might expect to find Wagyu.
If that doesn’t excite you, how about a customised steak? According to senior author of the paper, Michiya Matsusaki, if this technology is improved upon, a customised steak is a real possibility.
“By improving this technology, it will be possible to not only reproduce complex meat structures, such as the beautiful sashi of Wagyu beef, but to also make subtle adjustments to the fat and muscle components,” says Matsusaki.
Given that meat alternatives such as Beyond Meat can fetch incredibly high prices, we don’t expect 3D-bioprinted Wagyu to be any different. That having been said, the ability to control how much marbling a steak without forcing a cow into very specific controlled conditions, is rather incredible.
[Image – CC BY 2.0 Allan Salvador]