by Nick Kolyohin
JERUSALEM, Nov. 30 (Xinhua) -- Israeli startup Jet-Eat claims that it has created the world's first 3D-printed vegan beef steaks, saying they will make their debut in selected restaurants in Israel and Europe as early as 2019.
On Wednesday, Jet-Eat came out on top in the Joint Grand Final of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology, a key business gathering of the EU agri-food innovation community.
On Tuesday, the Israeli startup won an award for the most innovative plant-based product at Fi Global Startup Innovation Challenge 2018, Europe's leading food event.
Jet-Eat says their venture is part of an attempt to take a proactive role in shaping the future of the global food industry.
According to Uri Lesmes, academic supervisor of the "accelerator" program for food-tech of Israel Institute of Technology (Technion), from which Jet-Eat received mentoring, ensuring the food security and safety demands transformation and innovation of the food sector.
Some 1.3 billion tons of food go to waste annually worldwide. Jet-Eat aims to reduce food waste and provide innovative solutions to feed the growing world population by printing food, according to a statement released by the Technion.
In addition, much of the world's population suffers from a lack of proteins in the diet.
"Printing food in 3D is no longer science fiction. Furthermore, this promising technology has a challenge of printing food on a large scale," Lesmes told Xinhua.
Jet-Eat's printed meat provides sensorial properties, appearance, and nutritional values that will compete with traditional beef, he said.
The cutting-edge technology invented by the company is mimicking the natural structure of meat texture. It is a complex algorithm of a matrix that makes the meat.
In contrary to existing 3D food printers that modify shapes of food, the new startup creates the food itself from the basic units.
The 3D printer is loaded with plant-based ingredients formulated to emulate the muscle, fat, and blood of a real meat steak.
The company intends to cover its systems with patents by the end of 2018, as it is a newly emerging field for intellectual property laws to establish patents for printed meat.
Many products in the market call themselves chicken, hamburger or even steaks, "but they are all based on fundamental cooking techniques and target mostly vegans, who can't compare it to the real thing," said Eshchar Ben Shitrit, Jet-Eat's founder.
It is hard to make plant-based steak similar to conventional steak because we need to organize all the ingredients in the unique way the mother nature does it, he added.
The 3D model predicts how the steak cooked on the grill, what texture it develops, and even the way flavors released in consumers' palates, according to the Israeli company.
"We looked at the way meat is constructed naturally and recreated a similar product in printing. We make it, for example, medium or medium rare steak just by adjusting a 3D file", Ben Shitrit told Xinhua.
By using a unique technology, the new startup brings the food industry much closer to the real experience of cooking and eating meat, and especially beef, he noted.
Ronen Bar, Innovation Partner at Lever, a multi-million U.S.-based venture capital focusing on plant-based and clean meat, told Xinhua that 3D printing of meat could be an important step to replace conventional meat.
"The 3D meat printing has the potential to be at the forefront of the alternative protein field. Israel is already a leading force in clean meat which made from animal cells grown in a lab, without slaughter," Bar said.