Patrick Brown, the founder of Impossible Foods, makes claims that are seemingly impossible to live up to. How can something taste, smell and feel the same as a real burger, yet be plant-based and completely nutritious? Spoiler alert… it can’t.
‘Impossible’ is a food-engineering company who think they’ve cracked the code on believable, fake meat and it’s for a good cause. Their mission statement says they’re making meat using plants to create a surplus of ‘meat’ and to save the planet. Plant-based meat uses DNA similar to soy plants that’s then put into yeast. The yeast is fermented, which causes it to produce something called heme. “Here at Impossible Foods, our plant-based heme is made via fermentation of genetically engineered yeast and safety-verified by America’s top food-safety experts and peer-reviewed academic journals.” If only that were the truth.
Along with this improved recipe that Impossible hopes will save the planet, the nutrition facts seem pretty great. Impossible Burgers are significantly lower in protein than beef-based burgers, yet they contain more fiber. Impossible Burgers are also higher in fat and contain carbohydrates, while beef burgers do not contain any carbs. One Impossible Burger contains 2,350% of the recommended daily amount of Vitamin B and 16% of Sodium. Looking past those stats, it’s important to note that all of the good things on their nutrition label are not natural to the ingredients. All the fiber and minerals have to be artificially added, which doesn’t look good compared to the nutrient-rich, beef alternative.
According to Pew Charitable Trusts, the FDA is unaware of some 1,000 out of 10,000 ingredients used in food. Companies can pretty much just give the ‘okay’ that an ingredient is safe, Impossible Foods being one many companies that uses this to their advantage.
Impossible’s secret ingredient goes by the name of ‘soy leghemoglobin’, which is not approved by the FDA for concerns of it causing allergic reactions. Forbes says “The FDA’s approval was never even required in the first place since food manufacturers can self-affirm ingredients as being safe under the agency’s GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) program.” This means that the FDA doesn’t think foods like these are safe for consumption, yet places like Burger King are selling them anyway to the naive public.
The fact that chain fast food restaurants can sell food that was specifically not approved by the FDA is astonishing. With this growing fad of fake, plant-based meat, it’s brought to the surface some unsettling facts about how regulated the food open to the market are.