Experts Demo 3-D Food Printing, Discuss Challenges

3-D printing, a relatively new technology for producing novel foods, has caught the attention of a wide range of food professionals—from culinary specialists to military feeding programs. At an IFTNEXT session at IFT17, several presenters discussed the latest research and demonstrated 3-D printing of food.

Daryl Holliday with University of Holy Cross described a 3-D printing application for ground beef patties and other meat products (demonstrated in the first video below). The challenges of the technology are its slow speed, but the benefits include unique shapes and product customization. The beef patties consisted of 80/20 ground beef, which was mixed to a consistency of paté. The nozzle of the 3-D printer was enlarged to handle the product, which was deposited directly onto a hot griddle in a spiral pattern. The 7.8 mm-thick finished patty showed excellent bonding and the bite, chew, and mouthfeel of a traditional hamburger.

Michael Okamoto with U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research discussed the military’s interest in 3-D food printing. According to Okamoto, 3-D printing of foods offers personalized nutrition that can be tailored to individual real-time needs, such as food allergens. It can be customized to various field operations, and the on-demand feeding aspect of 3-D printing reduces the logistics burden of carrying packaged MREs and food and packaging waste. Okamoto showed an example of 3-D printing that could be utilized in the field (second video below).

The possibilities for the future of 3-D food printing are vast, but there is a need for more work to improve the technology with respect to heat/cold, nonstick, extrusion, etc. In addition, sensory testing and texture profile analysis will be vital to ensure consumer acceptance.

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