KFC announced that it is trying to build the world’s first lab-made chicken nuggetas as part of its “restaurant of the future” concept. The chicken chain will partner with Russian company 3D Bioprinting Solutions to develop bioprinting technology that uses chicken cells and plant materials to “print” chicken.
KFC plans to provide the bioprint company with ingredients such as flour and spices “to achieve KFC’s signature flavor” and will try to replicate the taste and taste of real chicken.
It’s worth noting that the bioprinting process described by KFC uses animal materials, so any chicken nuggets it produces will not be vegetarian. But KFC did offer vegetarian options in some restaurants before; last year, it became the first U.S. fast-food chain to test Beyond Meat’s plant-based chicken products, and plans to expand it to more stores this summer.
KFC says bioprinted chicken nuggets will be greener than standard chicken, citing a study in the U.S. Journal of Environmental Science and Technology that shows the benefits of growing meat from cells, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption compared to traditional farming methods.
“3D bioprinting technology was first widely recognized in medicine and is becoming increasingly popular in the production of foods such as meat.” Yusef Khesuani, co-founder of 3D Bioprint Solutions, said in a statement announcing his partnership with KFC. “In the future, the rapid development of this type of technology will enable us to make 3D-printed meat products more widely available, and we hope that the technology we have created in partnership with KFC will help accelerate the launch of cell-based meat products.”
3D bioprinting is a slow and laborious process. Although there are already some very attractive, it may develop into medical applications. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, are working on a bioprinting process for transplanting human organs, and they pointed out last year that biomaterials tend to deteriorate before the process is completed, so methods are forced to require them to be frozen when printing them. However, experts believe that 3D bioprinting technology has a long way to go before it can produce functional organs for transplant patients.
KFC said its plans for bioprinted meat will be finaltested in Moscow this fall. The announcement did not elaborate on how its testing process in Russia differs from other 3D bioprinting efforts, but said “there is no other way on the market to allow the creation of such a complex product from animal cells”. There is no immediate word on when or if it is possible to provide KFC customers with printed samples of chicken nuggets.