MAR 14, 2022 10:00 AM PDT

Do People Like 3D-printed Food?

WRITTEN BY: Ryan Vingum

When you hear the phrase “3D printed food,” what do you think of? Something completely and utterly artificial, maybe? A curiosity about how something could be 3D printed and even called food in the first place? Does this food even taste like real food? 

And when we talk about 3D printed food, what exactly do we mean? Some might liken it to automated food machines, such as pizza machines for example, where the pizza is prepared and cooked in the same machine. Though not exactly the same, the process is similar. A raw material (yes, still actual food products) is pushed through a nozzle and used to print a literal piece of food. 

While it may sound strange, 3D printed food is gaining some traction, though it is still in its early stages of development. That hasn’t prevented people from exploring different foods that can be successfully created using 3D printing. However, many attempts to 3D print foods tend to focus on sugary treats or chocolates

But how do people actually respond to the idea of 3D printed food? Would they eat it? Do they like it? These are all questions crucial to the success of any printed food endeavors. A new study published in Foods attempts to answer these questions.  

Specifically, researchers explored how labeling and educational information impacted how people perceived conventionally produced products compared to 3D printed food products; specifically, chocolate swirls, gummy carrot candies, and a baked potato “smile.” 

During the study, participants were presented with different food products and information about both convention and 3D printed ones. Participants were then asked to rate levels of “acceptance” and perceptions of quality for each product before participating in a sensory panel of the foods. 

Findings from the study suggested that participants actually tended to have favorable ratings towards 3D printed foods. Ratings about the food quality increased when something was labeled as a printed food rather than a “conventional” food, specifically for the chocolate and carrot gummies.

Upon tasting the foods, participants had more positive sensory feedback than negative, including statements about the 3D printed foods having better taste, texture, and flavor.

Younger participants and participants who had “food technology neophilia” also tended to have better comments on the 3D printed foods and a greater acceptance of new technologies for printing foods. 

Sources: Foods; All3DP

About the Author
Master's (MA/MS/Other)
Science writer and editor, with a focus on simplifying complex information about health, medicine, technology, and clinical drug development for a general audience.
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