2019 was the year of new meat alternatives with companies committing to offering a meatless option including Dunkin Donuts and Burger King. Another meatless option was revealed being made from soy protein and is lab-grown.
Researchers in Israel created a 3D scaffold for alternative meat using textured soy protein (an edible by-product of soybean production) that acts as a skeleton for bovine cells to grow around. This process creates a beef-like muscle tissue when baked or fried, replicating the texture of meat.
This alternative is different than the competing Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods formula that utilizes alternatives including potato and soy proteins. This meat alternative is considered cultured meat that is created on a molecular level, making it more similar to real meat.
Creating cultured meat is made possible by coaxing cells from chickens or cows into forming into muscle tissues with the process requiring a scaffold to mold the cells into alternative meat. The textured soy protein acts as an edible material that is porous, giving cells the proper amount of space to attach and grow.
The research scientists utilize “satellite cells” that are a mixture of cow muscle cells that are cultured with factors to stimulate maturation and growth. The new meat alternative utilizing the new model with the protein scaffold replicates the physical characteristics of real meat.
The development of a reliable scaffold model can create a meat alternative that is cheaper to make and offers a more realistic meat flavor for alternative meat products.