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Israel’s cell-based seafood start-up Wanda Fish has unveiled a cultured bluefin tuna toro sashimi prototype. 


Developed to address burgeoning demand for bluefin tuna, toro is made from tuna underbelly, with a high fat content and omega-3 levels giving it a unique buttery taste.


Wanda Fish’s cultivated sashimi prototype possesses the same sensory features of wild-sourced toro sashimi and has a comparable nutritional richness, especially protein and omega-3 fatty acids. 


The cell-based prototype combines cellular mass of muscle and fat created from bluefin tuna cells with a plant-based matrix – Wanda Fish’s chefs helped to develop its sashimi to a culinary standard. 



The company’s patent-pending technology induces native fat formation in bluefin tuna cells and its whole-cut downstream manufacturing process employs a rapid, low-cost and readily scalable production method.  


Daphna Heffetz, co-founder and CEO of Wanda Fish, said: “A key focus in the creation of our product was achieving the same level of fat marbling as real bluefin toro sashimi to create the same look and mouthfeel. Reaching this milestone demonstrates Wanda Fish’s ability to bring to market a whole-cut bluefin tuna toro filet without harming the ocean or diminishing the population of wild fish. The product is sustainable, and of course free of microplastics, mercury, and other chemical toxins all-too-commonly found in wild catch.” 


Wanda Fish’s VP of R&D, Malkiel Cohen, commented: “Our prototype is unique in the cultivated food industry, as there is no cooking or panning of the product. Using multiple bluefin tuna cells to create both muscle and fat and our plant-based 3D design, we capture the essence of a raw fish fillet without preservatives, artificial additives or GMOs.” 


“Our focus on bluefin tuna as our first product was driven by market needs rather than technology driven,” Heffetz added. The start-up plans to first introduce its tuna in the high-end food service sector, with a focus on Japanese cuisine, where sushi and sashimi are traditional features.

 

The Cell Base spoke with CEO Daphna Heffetz on the new launch.  

Daphna Heffetz
Daphna Heffetz ©Chen Galili
Can you provide us with an overview of the technology behind Wanda Fish's cultivated bluefin tuna toro sashimi?  

We are using myoblast cells, a pre-muscle stem cell. Our cell lines are immortalised, differentiate into muscle fibres, and accumulate fat using non-GMO techniques. The tuna cell biomass, including muscle, fat and connective tissue, is mixed with a plant-based matrix to form a sashimi. As the product is to be served raw, similarly to wild-caught sashimi, we developed a downstream manufacturing technology to produce the product raw. 


What inspired Wanda Fish to focus on bluefin tuna toro, and to develop this technology for inducing native fat formation in bluefin tuna cells? 

The decision to go for bluefin tuna was driven by its high demand around the world, lack of alternative products and our commitment to developing a pollution-free, sustainable bluefin tuna toro that overcomes the drawbacks found in the wild-caught. Bluefin tuna is a premium product that can cost the consumer well above $100 per kg. There are no alternative products that come close in taste or texture to the wild-caught fish.


An important element of the bluefin tuna toro cut is its high-fat content, contributing to its taste and mouthfeel. As such, we had to develop a fat formation technology that can control the fat content and composition, emulating the sensory experience of wild-caught fish, preserving its nutrition, taste, texture and mouthfeel. There is nothing similar to this available. 


Wanda Fish tuna
©Noam Preisman
Could you tell us more about the benefits of Wanda Fish's production method? 

Our proprietary technology enables us to induce fat accumulation using our myoblast cells to mimic the intramuscular fat of the toro bluefin tuna. This enables us to grow and differentiate the cells in one single bioreactor making the process economic.  


In addition, we have produced our toro sashimi prototype, leveraging internal know-how which resulted in a cost-effective and scaled technology. These are two key differentiators contributing to lower production cost while maintaining the quality and sensory experience of our product. 


Wanda Fish tuna
©Noam Preisman

What are the key sensory features and nutritional aspects of Wanda Fish's toro sashimi compared to wild-caught alternatives and can you explain the role of the plant-based matrix in the development of Wanda Fish's 3D fillet adaptation? 

Our hybrid product includes muscle, fat and connective tissue biomass grown from fish cells mixed with high quality plant-based ingredients without preservatives and artificial ingredients offering a delicious and nutritional product to market and satisfy consumers. 


The main challenge the entire cultivated food sector faces is the high manufacturing cost, together with providing the taste and mouthfeel – this is even more true with seafood products. We already have a significant portion of cell biomass in our hybrid product, including cell-fat, in order to reach that unique taste and mouthfeel of bluefin tuna.  


Our mission is to supply a delicious and nutritious product that will also do good for our world – and we believe we have the formulation to deliver just that. 


#WandaFish #Israel

Exclusive: Wanda Fish CEO Daphna Heffetz discusses next-gen cultured tuna sashimi

Phoebe Fraser

20 May 2024

Exclusive: Wanda Fish CEO Daphna Heffetz discusses next-gen cultured tuna sashimi

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