The truth about KFC's 3D-printed 'chicken'

Okay, so you already love Kentucky Fried Chicken's chicken, right? Well, are you game to try a 3D-printed version of KFC nuggets? The company is teaming up with a research lab in Moscow, Russia, to produce lab-grown nuggets that have the same taste and texture as the real thing, right down to that delicious breading (via Fox News). If all goes well, KFC will be ready to introduce the nuggets to Russia by Fall 2020.

According to a company press release out of Moscow, the 3D chicken is the next step in KFC's move toward a "restaurant of the future." You may remember that KFC teamed up with Beyond Meat to test plant-based chicken in 2019. The plant-based chicken was an instant hit at its initial test location in Atlanta, prompting the company to roll out its Beyond Fried Chicken to 50-plus locations in southern California (via company press release). With news like that, we aren't surprised that KFC is taking this new leap to 3D-printed chicken. If they succeed, KFC will be the first fast-food chain to do so.

Can you really print meat?

The concept of 3D-printed food is not new; 3D food printers have been used to print sweets, food for astronauts, and even nutritious meals for nursing home patients. In fact, this is not even the first time someone has experimented with printing meat. According to 3Dnatives, KFC's partner, 3D Bioprinting Solutions, will use a method called bioprinting, which will combine chicken cells and plant material, and has three distinct advantages. They say that bio-meat is a cleaner product, because it has the same microelements as the original product, without the additives of farming. Cell-based meat is considered to be more ethical than traditional meat farming. And, meat grown from cells has a very small impact on the environment.

In order to create the 3D chicken nuggets with 3D Bioprinting Solutions, we noticed that the company press release stated, "KFC will provide its partner with all of the necessary ingredients, such as breading and spices, to achieve the signature KFC taste." Could this mean that Colonel Sanders' signature secret spice blend could inadvertently fall into the hands of a stranger? Stay tuned.