Anyone who knows me at all knows I am passionate about everything “food”.
Not just any food. It has to be real food, not the science-made-in-a-lab stuff that’s passed off as food. While I’m not passionate about lab-produced food products, I am always curious. The “Impossible Burger” is one such food product.
In order to make the Impossible Burger viable as a profit-making food product, it has gone under two key changes since its inception. The first was a change from wheat to soy as the main ingredient. The change was necessary because the wheat version crumbled when grilled, soy is cheaper, and consumers wanted a gluten-free version. Note, none of those reasons were about nutrition. The second change was making the burger appear red, juicy, and taste like meat, which brought the creation of “heme.”
Heme (leghemoglobin) is naturally present in our bodies in a molecule called hemoglobin.
Its main function is to carry oxygen. Other plants use heme for similar purposes. Soy is one plant that has it present in smaller quantities. The company uses the science of genetic modification to modify yeast to turn it into a heme producing mechanism (protein) in order to make enough heme from soy to meet the demand for the burger process. So while the burger’s heme ingredient isn’t technically a GMO, it isn’t a real organism either. Originally, the FDA did not approve this version for human consumption, but on July 18, 2019, based on Impossible Burger’s research, it was approved as a color additive under the heading of “considered safe.”
Technically, this doesn’t denote FDA approval.
To garner future relations in bringing new food features to the FDA for approval they opted to search out approval under GRAS (Generally Considered Safe). Otherwise, the company was actually able to certify this ingredient itself as safe.
Yet another reason to say no to the Impossible Burger is the ingredient, GMO soy protein isolate, which comes from chemically stripping out all other nutrients. The end product is no longer a soybean, so categorizing this “burger” as “plant-based” is rather a stretch.
Other current ingredients are water, soy protein concentrate, coconut oil, sunflower oil, heme, yeast extract, konjac gum, xanthan gum, methylcellulose, and added vitamins and nutrients. A quarter-pound has 240 calories, zero cholesterol, 14 grams of total fat, 3 grams of fiber, and 9 grams total carbs.