It may not look much like steak, but researchers say it will taste just as good.

Nissin has shown itself to be no stranger to innovation, having developed both a bluetooth fork that detects and drowns out slurping sounds as well as a rig that ensures no cabbage is wasted in instant yakisoba.

And while those inventions are arguably insane, the makers of Cup Noodle are also involved in more conventional R&D, such as the Japan Science and Technology Agency’s (JST) Mirai Project which aims to solve social issues through creative solutions. In this instance, Nissin and the JST are tackling the development of cultured meat.

It’s no surprise that with the growing and developing global population, meat production is nearing a breaking point and cannot be sustained without severe environmental consequences. So all around the world, experts are searching for alternatives such as switching to insect-based foods.

Not the best alternative to a cheeseburger.


Another possibility is cultured meat, which is meat that is grown cell-by-cell in a lab rather than through farmed and slaughtered livestock. This has the potential to be vastly superior in terms of cost, hygiene, ethics, and environmental impact. The only problem is the texture.

▼ Pretty hard to replicate this bad boy in a lab


Since cultured meat doesn’t go through the rigors of being attached to a living animal, it doesn’t “mature” into the substances that steak fans know and love. That’s why until now, researchers everywhere having been focusing on simulated types of processed meats like ground beef.

▼ Diagram showing how clusters meat cells need to mature into muscle fiber


It’s been a hurdle for the development of synthetic meat, but it’s one that Nissin and the JST think they have licked. Through a new method, they believe they have found a way to construct diced steak with the very same texture of that from a real cow.

The key, it appears, is the addition of vitamin C to the culturing process. This causes the meat cells to form into those long fibrous strands (known as sarcomeres) that you see in diagrams of muscle in anatomy textbooks and on Colossal Titans. In addition, by culturing the bovine cells in a 3D environment of collagen gel rather than a flat petri dish, it is possible to grow relatively thick “cuts” of beef.

▼ Experiments thus far have yielded a diced steak a little smaller than a cubic centimeter (1 x 0.8 x 0.7 centimeters)


Readers of the news were generally enthusiastic and full of questions about what kind of future this might lead to.

“Great! I can’t wait to scare kids with stories about the old days when we killed and ate animals.”
“It kind of looks like a candy.”
“Nissin has done so much goofy stuff, I can’t tell if they’re being serious now.”
“Making cultured meat with authentic tissue structure is all we need for this to be a real thing.”
“So how do animal groups feel about this?”
“Cubes you say? This is perfect for the mystery meat in Cup Noodles!”

As the last comment pointed out, this research is indeed a perfect match for Nissin and Cup Noodle. Clearly, any steakhouse attempting to offer that small white cube pictured above would be laughed out of business and doesn’t have much interest in such technology at this point in time.

Cup Noodle, on the other hand, is well-known for their tiny cubes of meat, affectionately referred to as “mystery meat” (nazoniku). These little cubes seem so heavily processed that if a synthesized version with the texture of steak were to be used instead, it would probably be a step up.


And with the successful mass production of cultured mystery meat cubes in full swing, the capital would be there for further development into more higher classes of cultured meat. From there we may even see an end to slaughterhouses in our lifetime, and best of all we could be able to do it without having to eat baggies of rhinoceros beetles.

Source: Nissin, Hachima Kiko
Top image: Nissin
● Want to hear about SoraNews24’s latest articles as soon as they’re published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!