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KFC is planning to start 3D printing chicken nuggets – and while that may not sound super appetising, it could good news for the environment.
Back in June, a company unveiled the world’s first ever 3D printed steak, and now fast food chain KFC has announced a similar plan, this time with lab-made chicken nuggets.
KFC has partnered with a Russian biotechnology company called 3D Printing Solutions for a project titled ‘Meat of the Future’, which aims to craft the “world’s first laboratory-produced chicken nuggets”.
In a press release, KFC says the process will use “chicken cells and plant material, allowing it to reproduce the taste and texture of chicken meat”.
The company claims its 3D-printed nuggets will be “as close as possible in both taste and appearance” to the chicken nuggets meat-eaters know and love, with the cell-based nuggets containing the 11 herbs and spices currently featured in KFC’s chicken nuggets recipe, to make them as similar as possible to the real thing.
What are the benefits of 3D food printing?
While lab-produced chicken nuggets might not be to everyone’s taste, the innovation comes as many fast food companies are being asked to look into the environmental impact of their production, with both animal rearing and transportation having large carbon footprints.
The fast food chain claims that its “biomeat” will remove the additives used in traditional farming and create a “cleaner final product”.
Additionally, KFC claims the lab-grown meat will also cut down on energy consumption and harm to animals.
KFC points to a study by the American Environmental Science & Technology Journal, which suggests the technology of growing meat from cells has minimal negative impact on the environment, allowing energy consumption to be cut by more than half, greenhouse gas emissions to be reduced 25 fold, and 100 times less land to be used than traditional farm-based meat production.
“At KFC, we are closely monitoring all of the latest trends and innovations and doing our best to keep up with the times,” says KFC Russia’s general manager Raisa Polyakova.
“Our experiment in testing 3D bioprinting technology to create chicken products can also help address several looming global problems.
“We are glad to contribute to its development and are working to make it available to thousands of people in Russia and, if possible, around the world’.
While these environmental and ethical benefits could make the thought of 3D chicken nuggets a little more appealing, social media isn’t entirely convinced about the idea of lab-grown meat.
— Skeets (@SkeetsStreetz) July 21, 2020
But others were quick to point out the environmental pros.
"Real" chicken = more grim
"Chicks dead at [.] a few days old, chickens suffering from leg injuries so bad they are unable to stand & carcasses left to rot for days among flocks of living birds. There is, however, no suggestion Moy Park has broken the law"https://t.co/963lQBj4po
— Andrew (@awright4645) July 21, 2020
I'm not sure. If it reduces the number of chickens leading miserable, short lives. So much the better. The nutritional value of a factory farmed chicken nugget is pretty low, anyway. I'm guessing it's not vegetarian though, as it contains chicken cells?
— Vikki the Veg (@vikkitheveg) July 21, 2020
I'm all for innovation- if its safe can be reproduced whats to lose and everything to gain?
— bapfs (@BruceArena) July 21, 2020
The lab-produced chicken nuggets are due to be tested in Moscow this autumn, with plans to take them worldwide if everything goes well.
Vegetarians and vegans might have to give the new nuggets a miss however, as because the product is based on animal tissues, it is not vegetarian.
Last year KFC announced plans to trial meatless nuggets and wings in a bid to keep up with the demand for more vegan fast-food options.
The chicken chain joined forces with Beyond Meat, a vegan food maker, to create this limited run of vegan food.