Other types of nuggets, including Quorn nuggets, are already grown in lab-type conditions but, if successful, this will be the first lab nugget made from real animal cells.
The international fast-food chain has partnered with Russian biotechnology company 3D Printing Solutions, which produces bioprinters and materials for 3D bioprinting, for a project titled “Meat of the Future”.
The venture aims to create the world’s first lab-grown chicken nuggets made from real animal cells and plant-based ingredients, and KFC expects to receive the first product for testing by autumn 2020.
The Russian firm is developing an additive printing technique to recreate the “taste and texture” of natural chicken while keeping animal involvement to a minimum. Meanwhile, KFC will provide bread, spices and other ingredients to match the restaurant’s “signature” flavour.
The fast food chain says that its “biomeat” will remove the additives used in traditional farming and create a “cleaner final product”, adding that 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.
The process is also more ethical than factory farming as lab-grown meat production is slaughter-free. However, because the product is based on animal tissues, it is not vegetarian.
Raisa Polyakova, general manager of KFC Russia, said in a statement that “crafted meat products” are part of KFC’s “restaurant of the future concept.”
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“At KFC, we are closely monitoring all of the latest trends and innovations and doing our best to keep up with the times by introducing advanced technologies to our restaurant networks,” Polyakova said.
“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.”
Yusef Khesuani, co-founder and managing partner of 3D Bioprinting Solutions, added: “3D bioprinting technologies, initially widely recognised in medicine, are nowadays gaining popularity in producing foods such as meat.
“In the future, the rapid development of such technologies will allow us to make 3D-printed meat products more accessible.
“We are hoping that the technology created as a result of our cooperation with KFC will help accelerate the launch of cell-based meat products on the market.”