New ways to prepare red meat using three dimensional (3D) food printing will be the focus of a major conference to be held at Monash University’s Food Innovation Centre in Melbourne next month.

While the use of 3D food printing in aged care has been adopted in several European countries, thanks in part to funding from the European Union to advance the technology, it is yet to really take off in Australia.

Research undertaken by Meat and Livestock Australia last year identified significant opportunities for the use of meat in 3D food design, noting its importance in the minds of consumers as a great source of iron and zinc and its association with Australian culture.

MLA General Manager – Research Development and Innovation Sean Starling said 3DP food had real potential to offer personalised approaches to nutrients or food textures, especially in aged care settings.

“There is a need for the creation of new business models and solutions to meet mega trends and demands from different markets who want personalised approaches to nutrients or textures rather than the current whole muscle meat products,” Mr Starling said.

“For example, the aged care sector is in need of food products that are easier to chew and have traditionally utilised pureed food as it is easier and cheaper.”

“However, by utilising 3DP technology there is an opportunity for the red meat industry to provide high-protein meals that are more appetising for residents and can be presented in intricate premium shapes and sizes.”

“Working in combination with leading-edge 3DP science providers, there is an opportunity for the Australian red meat industry to tap new markets and increase value for previously under-utilised red meat product.”

“If the Australian red meat industry is to remain globally competitive we have to embrace innovation and new technology to ensure we grow our markets and provide greater value for the industry.”

In an interview with Over60, Michael Lee, a food technologist and program manager for innovation at MLA said they are also looking at other technology to retain the texture of meat for people who have difficulty swallowing.

“We are also looking at technology called high-moisture extrusion cooked. Those two technologies in particular are all around providing texture,” he said.

“We are looking at how we can use technology that actually has meat-like fibres and texture, so that food can be actually enjoyable to eat and chew.”

“We need to be adaptable and say steaks and roasts and chops are great products but can we use technology to give a certain segment of the population some solutions, so they can still eat red meat, but in a different form.”

For more information about the event go to https://3dfoodprintingconference.asia