Wagyu Steak is the best of the best. For many meat lovers out there, the delicate Japanese delicacy is the peak of culinary performance. However, that delightful, soft steak is an expensive treat for those who chow on meat. Furthermore, the environmental impact of cattle consumption can't be understated.
In response to these issues, Japanese scientists at Osaka University have worked to replicate Wagyu Steak. Using additive manufacturing and genetics research, the team has successfully created a complete edible, artificial replica of the meat dish.
Osaka University’s 3D-printed Wagyu Steak
The team at Osaka University crafted the artificial steak by using cow stem cells. After converting the cells into muscle, fat and blood vessels, they were able to use them in 3D printing. Using bioprinting, the individual cells are layered to resemble real meat.
Recreating Wagyu is a very difficult task for bioprinting. The steak’s trademark marbling and thin fat makes the meat melt to the touch. This means that the structure is incredibly delicate while printing. However, it appears that the Osaka scientists have actually pulled it off.
Replicating this meat is a massive step forward for sustainable meat products. While the ethics surrounding stem cell meats are shoddy, they're more accepted than that of large-scale intensive farming.
What this means for the future
Essentially, this is one step closer to the Star Trek dream of food replicators. In the sci-fi show, starship residents can request a food of their choice and receive a complete replica within seconds. In reality, that tech seems unachievable, but we're stepping ever-closer to tech of its kind.
Hopefully, with further improvement to bioprinting, food replication will be able to drive down the cost of food. Of course, that type of friendly development will likely be fought against in the years to come.