Israeli 3D-printed veggie burgers coming to a restaurant near you

An up-and-coming startup promises to revolutionize the fast food industry by printing ready-to-eat plant-based burgers in three minutes.

By: Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Chef-It, an Israeli food-tech company, has its eyes on a juicy prize: Taking a chunk of the massive fast-food industry by creating a 3-D printer that can quickly “print” and simultaneously grill a meatless hamburger, as reported in Calcalist Tuesday.

The ingredients in the burger are raw materials made of cellulose, plant-based proteins, fats and flavorings stuffed into a capsule. At the touch of a button, the machine would print out the rare, medium or well done meal while cooking it using infrared light.

Chef-It co-founder Prof. Oded Shoseyov claims the food can taste either grilled, baked or fried. The professor of plant molecular biology, protein engineering and nano-biotechnology at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem has set up a prototype of his machine at the university’s Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment in Rehovot. Currently, it takes ten minutes to print a burger, he told Calcalist, but he estimates that within several months his team will be able to get the time down to three minutes.

This will enable the company to offer something new and appetizing in many ways to the millions of people who flock to fast-food restaurants and have given McDonald’s alone nearly $23 billion in revenue in 2017, according to statista.com. As Shoseyov explained, the main ingredient, cellulose, can potentially be manipulated to mimic any kind of food, while having zero glycemic value and zero calories. This means that those on special diets, such as diabetics or celiacs, as well as those who want to simply lose weight, could eat these burgers.

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Shoseyov also pointed out that this kind of hamburger would also be a lot more friendly to the environment, as the meat industry is one of the world’s greatest polluters, the report said. (A single cow emits on average per year between 70 and 120 kg of methane, a greenhouse gas that is 23 times more powerful than the carbon dioxide found in car exhaust in terms of its contribution to global warming.)

Chef-It is currently in the process of raising $2 million in a funding round and expects to complete it in the next two months.