Fact Check: 3D Printed Meat NOT The Same As Eating Ultraprocessed Foods That Increase Risk Of Cancer, Heart Disease

Fact Check

  • by: Ioana Burtea
Fact Check: 3D Printed Meat NOT The Same As Eating Ultraprocessed Foods That Increase Risk Of Cancer, Heart Disease Not Same Thing

Is eating 3D printed meat the equivalent of consuming ultraprocessed foods that would increase the risk of colon cancer or heart disease by 70 percent? No, that's not true: 3D printed meat is not automatically an ultraprocessed food, and while the latter does increase risk of heart disease or cancer, it does not do so by 70 percent.

The claim originated in a video (archived here) published on TikTok by user @patriapriori on December 10, 2023, titled (translated from Romanian to English by Lead Stories staff) "Be careful with not being careful: consuming processed foods increases the risk of heart disease and colon cancer by over 70%!" The clip included the following description (as translated):

A factory in the Netherlands is printing 500 tons of 3D steaks per month. The company Redefine Meat will supply German restaurants with printed fillets. Approximately 10,000 restaurants in the European Union already buy 'meat' from Redefine Meat. Be careful what you eat for Christmas dinner!

This is what the post looked like on TikTok at the time of writing:

Screenshot 2023-12-19 at 17.20.21.png

(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Tue Dec 19 15:17:41 2023 UTC)

This claim combines two unrelated pieces of information. First, ultraprocessed foods (not processed) are linked to an increase in heart disease or cancer, according to a new study published by The Lancet and quoted by World Cancer Research Fund. However there is no mention of a 70 percent or higher risk. Two previous studies presented at the European Society of Cardiology in 2023 confirmed the risks, finding that women who eat a lot of ultraprocessed foods can increase their risk of high blood pressure by 39 percent, while men and women who do so can increase their risk of heart disease by 24 percent.

Ultraprocessed foods include soft drinks, frozen supermarket meals, fried foods, flavored chips or processed meats like bacon and salami -- not all types of meat. At the same time, 3D printed meat is not automatically included in the ultraprocessed foods category -- it is still animal meat with the same characteristics as the original meat. If an ultraprocessed meat was being 3D printed, then it would inherit the same risks. If a piece of raw meat was being printed, it would not pose the same risks as an ultraprocessed one.

As for the exact effects of consuming lab-grown meat, they are still up for debate, since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture just approved human consumption in 2023.

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  Ioana Burtea

Ioana Burtea has worked in journalism for 15 years. She started her career at Mediafax news agency in Bucharest and has written for DoR magazine for over seven years. Her collaborations include publications like Europe & Me, New Eastern Europe, Balkan Insight and Washington Post. Ioana published pieces on the justice system in Romania, social affairs, politics and personal essays. In 2018,  she became a fellow of the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network.  In 2021, she received the first prize in the Portrait category at the national Superscrieri journalism awards.

Read more about or contact Ioana Burtea

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