KFC Researching Bioprinting Option for Chicken Nuggets

Technology and fast food converge in unexpected ways

Could the next chicken sandwich you get at KFC be grown in a lab?
Mtaylor848/Creative Commons
By Tobias Carroll / July 19, 2020 7:00 am

In the near future, could the fast food you consume involve lab-grown meat? (Which might be known as something else by then.) For those concerned about the ethics of eating meat — or some of the health risks — that day could be something to celebrate. A new report from Kim Lyons at The Verge suggests that one of the world’s best-known fast food chains is exploring that very option, and they’re making international plans to do so.

The Verge’s report reveals that KFC is working with 3D Bioprinting Solutions, a Russian company, to explore the concept of printing meat by using the cells of chickens. Unlike Beyond Meat’s chicken alternative, however, bioprinted chicken would not qualify as vegetarian. But, as Lyons writes, there are still a number of advantages that bioprinting would have:

Bioprinted nuggets would be more environmentally friendly to produce than standard chicken meat, KFC says, citing (but not linking to) a study by the American Environmental Science and Technology Journal it says shows the benefits of growing meat from cells, including reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption compared to traditional farming methods.

If 3D Bioprinting Solutions’ name sounds familiar, you might recall them from a project they conducted on the International Space Station last year. That experiment resulted in a tiny steak being bioprinted — in space. Yes, this does sound a lot like the replicators in Star Trek.

According to The Verge’s article, KFC will be testing bioprinted nuggets later this year. Those tests will be taking place in Moscow, however; there’s no word yet on when adventurous American diners will have a chance to sample this new endeavor.

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