Loaded with fungi, synthetic vitamins, and no actual fish whatsoever, the first 3D-printed fish filet has “of-fish-ally” hit the market. Revo Foods, a food startup based in Vienna, Austria, has unveiled its 3D-printed vegan “salmon” with plans to bring this revolutionary fake fish to a store near you.
“With the milestone of industrial-scale 3D food printing, we are entering a creative food revolution, an era where food is being crafted exactly according to the customer needs. We are not just creating a vegan alternative; we are shaping the future of food itself,” Robin Simsa, CEO of Revo Foods, said in a statement.
Called “THE FILET,” Revo Foods’ says its 100% vegan fish filet contains omega-3 fats, nine essential amino acids, and vitamins A, B2, B3, B6, folic acid, B12, and D2.
Image Credit: Revo foods
Ingredients in Revo’s filet include mycoprotein, soy protein extrudate, water, sunflower oil, gelling agents such as carrageenan and methylcellulose, flavors, DHA, and EPA from microalgae, synthetic vitamins, colorings from iron oxide, lycopene, and rapeseed protein, and konjac—a thickening agent.
Mycoprotein is derived from a fungus called Fusarium venenatum. Although it may be high in protein and fiber, a number of studies have shown mycoprotein is an allergen and may also cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Several deaths have been linked to foods containing mycoprotein, and research suggests one may become sensitized and subsequently develop a specific allergy to the ingredient.
Carrageenan is an ingredient extracted from red seaweed used to thicken food. Approved only for limited use in the EU, carrageenan is associated with numerous autoimmune conditions, including inflammatory bowel disease, colon cancer, and rheumatoid arthritis.
The mycoprotein-based fungi filet is the world’s first 3D-printed food available in grocery stores. However, Israeli firm Steakholder Foods created a similar 3D bio-printed grouper earlier this year and also hopes to have their products in stores in the upcoming months.
To create 3D-printed salmon, Revo Foods integrates fats into a fibrous protein matrix—manufactured by Swedish startup Mycorena—called “Pyomyc,” which creates the “flakiness” and juicy fibers of fish fillets.
According to Mycorena’s website, Promyc is a vegan mycoprotein ingredient produced through a fermentation biotechnology process.
“Our production process allows us to be a lot more efficient than traditional farming in terms of time, cost, and feedstock, with much less environmental impact. It also enables the decentralization of food production, making it possible to produce Promyc wherever needed,” the company said.
Revo Foods then uses food-grade syringes to hold the printing material and deposits the ingredients through a food-grade nozzle layer by layer before injecting the filament-like matrix of the vegan fish fillet. The end result is a salmon-inspired fishless fish.
According to a 2023 paper in Current Research in Food Science, very few studies have looked into the development of 3D-printed meat products, and most have looked into the “wet concentrate of proteins” used for adhesion, gelation, and softness versus how consuming these types of food affect the body.
In other words, adequate studies haven’t been conducted to determine if these food products are safe for human consumption and what effect they may have on the body if consumed long-term.
U.S. Approves Lab-Grown Meat for Human Consumption
Although Revo Foods’ salmon contains no meat, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently gave two different manufacturers—Upside Foods and Good Meat—permission to sell “cell-cultivated” lab-grown meat derived from animals that haven’t been killed.
This occurred just months after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, for the first time, said cell-cultured lab-made chicken was safe to consume, which opened the door for two California companies to bring lab-grown chicken to America’s restaurants, followed by store shelves.
Cultivated meat is grown in steel tanks from the cells of a living animal, a fertilized egg, or other cells. Once the cell lines are selected, they’re combined with a broth-like mixture of amino acids, fatty acids, sugars, salts, vitamins, and other ingredients cells need to grow. Inside the cultivator tanks, the cells grow and increase quickly. Once large sheets of the meat product are formed, companies like Good Meat turn the chicken cells into cutlets, nuggets, shredded meat, and satays.
More than 150 companies worldwide are developing chicken, pork, lamb, fish, and beef from cells—which scientists say will have a positive environmental impact. The cost? The price is expected to mirror high-end organic chicken selling for up to $20 per pound. The potential effects these lab-grown meats may have on the human body? Nobody knows.
These companies believe their products are part of a new era of meat production geared toward eliminating harm to animals and reducing the environmental impact of grazing, growing feed for animals, and animal waste.
“Instead of all of that land and all of that water that’s used to feed all of these animals that are slaughtered, we can do it in a different way,” said Josh Tetrick, co-founder and chief executive of Eat Just, which runs Good Meat.
Yet, these companies and their proponents have failed to consider that animal waste and grazing benefit the environment and the soil used to grow the foods humans are actually designed to eat.
Luckily, a recent poll by the Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research showed half of U.S. adults said they are unlikely to try meat grown using animal cells—with many citing safety as the biggest concern.
But these companies are hopeful that once people understand how the meat is made and taste it, they’ll be hooked.
Megan is an attorney and journalist with additional expertise in natural health. She has a flare for breaking down complex and controversial topics into easy-to-synthesize and entertaining pieces that empower others to make informed decisions.