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Scientists are 3D printing food to overcome future supply issues

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Scientists are 3D printing food to overcome future supply issues

It's the weekend, which probably means you're gonna treat yourself to a takeaway of some description.

Well, you may want to hold off on the Deliveroo after you've read this, because scientists are working on 3D printed grub.

Yep, just when you thought the human race couldn't go any further, it does.

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A team of researchers based in Singapore have been looking for ways to deal with future food supply problems and decided to just print some.

Many parts of the world already turn to foods like bugs and algae for sustenance, which can seem a bit odd to some.

Researchers 3D printed food made out of insects. Credit: SUTD
Researchers 3D printed food made out of insects. Credit: SUTD

So the group of scientists came up with a way of making the idea of chowing down on insects a little more palatable.

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Rather than eating crickets or larvae them by themselves, they decided to combine them with more commonly-eaten vegetables like carrots to change the flavour.

Professor Chua Chee Kai, from the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD, is the co-author of the study.

He said: "The appearance and taste of such alternative proteins can be disconcerting for many.

It's hoped the method could provide a solution to future food supply problems. Credit: SUTD
It's hoped the method could provide a solution to future food supply problems. Credit: SUTD
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"This is where the versatility of 3D food printing rises to the challenge as it can transform the way in which food is presented and overcome the inertia of consumer inhibitions."

Prof Yi Zhang, the principal investigator from UESTC, said they hoped the study could encourage more people to consider alternative sources of food in the future.

"Alternative proteins may become our main source of protein intake in the future," said Prof Zhang.

"This study proposes a systematic engineering approach of optimising food inks, thereby enabling easy creations and customisations of visually pleasing, flavourful and nutritionally adequate food enhanced with alternative proteins.

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Delicious. Credit: Jan Fidler/Alamy
Delicious. Credit: Jan Fidler/Alamy

"We hope our work would encourage consumers to eat more of these unfamiliar, but sustainable food items."

Aakanksha Pant, corresponding author of the paper and Research Associate from SUTD, added: "This research study can also be generalised for other food ingredients and response of the food inks like texture, printability, water seepage may be included for optimisation.

"The response surface method approach may lead researchers to adopt similar method for optimising 3DFP food inks constituting complex multicomponent food ingredients."

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Yum.

If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected] 

Featured Image Credit: SUTD/Tom Wang/Alamy

Topics: News, Science, Weird, World News, Food and Drink

Dominic Smithers
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