I’ll confess right up front that I’m one of “those people” who eat chicken nuggets. Whether they’re from McDonald’s, KFC or elsewhere, I sometimes find myself ordering nuggets for a quick meal on the go. That doesn’t mean that I don’t sometimes wonder about the origins of the food, but I try not to let that bother me. I mean, which part of the chicken does the “nugget” come from? It’s probably best not to spend too much time thinking about it while eating.

But later this year you may have plenty more to think about. Kentucky Fried Chicken just announced that they’re partnering with a 3D “bioprinting” firm in Russia to create 3D printed chicken nuggets. (Insert record-scratching sound effect here.) Hold the phone. You’re saying that we can use 3D printing technology to produce… chickens now? Not quite. But it’s also not that far off the mark. The machine can supposedly produce actual chicken flesh without all the muss and fuss of killing a bird. (NY Post)

KFC is working with a Russian 3D bioprinting company to create lab-produced chicken nuggets.

The fast food giant announced its ‘meat of the future concept’ and plans to have a product ready to test by the end of this year.

KFC said in a statement: “KFC is taking the next step in its innovative concept of creating a “restaurant of the future” by launching the development of innovative 3D bioprinting technology to create chicken meat in cooperation with the 3D Bioprinting Solutions research laboratory.

I was aware that work was already underway to advance 3D bioprinting, particularly in the medical field. It’s frequently predicted that we’re going to be able to start creating bladders, kidneys and even hearts or lungs from a patient’s own cells and transplanting them without worrying about organ rejection. If that happens, it’s going to be a game-changing breakthrough.

But when we start talking about food, that’s a slightly different matter. They’re describing this process as one where they take some chicken cells from a live animal, grow them into a “cluster,” convert that cluster into a “paste” and print the paste into the shape of a nugget. Hoo boy. Makes your mouth water just reading the words, doesn’t it?

Although it’s still “real” chicken so it wouldn’t qualify as vegan or vegetarian, the scientists behind this scheme are claiming that it’s still more environmentally friendly and humane. You don’t need all that many chickens to collect enough cells to start the process, so you could cut down on the industrial-sized chicken farms we rely on today. Of course, you’d need to replace them with vast warehouses to produce all of the chicken-cell “paste” we’ll need to stock up all of the printers.

Will the cooked “paste” even remotely resemble the actual flesh of a chicken in either texture or taste? You could argue that the McDonald’s nuggets look pretty close to mush to begin with, but the ones from Chick-fil-A tend to be actual chunks of chicken meat. The KFC representative interviewed for the linked article claims that the texture will be the same as what they offer now. And the magical 11 herbs and spices will be in there also to keep the taste the same. We shall see. If any of you brave souls want to go first and try them when they become available, do let me know how it goes. You’ve got a lot more intestinal fortitude than I.