Titi Mary Tran/ Nguoi-Viet English
LAS VEGAS – Impossible Foods, a company that uses plant-based ingredients to make food that looks and tastes like meat, debuted its “Impossible Burger” during the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show here last month.
And now, the burger is available at 5,000 locations in Hong Kong, Macau and the United States, including at the three Umami Burger restaurants in Orange County: Anaheim, Irvine and Costa Mesa. And the burger is scheduled to arrive in grocery stores sometime this year.
The Impossible Burger is made from wheat protein, coconut oil, potato protein and heme, an iron-containing molecule that is found in all living plants and animals but which is most abundant in animals. The company says the burger’s meaty flavor comes from heme in soy plants, and the taste is identical to the heme from animals.
In short, heme makes a burger look and taste like beef.
Impossible Foods says its burger contains no gluten, animal hormones or antibiotics, and its shelf life is about 10 days in the refrigerator and four to six months in frozen packages.
Patrick O. Brown, a professor emeritus from Stanford University’s Biochemistry Department, and his team of scientists at Impossible Food say they are trying to eliminate the need for animals as a food production technology and make the global food system sustainable.
According to the company’s website (impossiblefoods.com), animal agriculture takes up nearly half of the world’s land, making it one of the greatest threats to wildlife and biodiversity. Impossible Foods, based in Redwood City, Calif., makes meat directly from plants, using a small fraction of the land, water and energy needed to make meat from animals. The website says this approach will enable people to enjoy their favorite foods without destroying the environment.
David Lipman, chief science officer at Impossible Foods, explained the heme-extraction process.
“The first step is to discover the role of heme in generating meat flavor — that was fairly early on — but there was the issue of how do we obtain the sufficient quantity of it at a reasonable cost so that we can build the product that can be accessible to the rest of us. We explored first trying to isolate it from the roots of soy plants because it is in there with high concentration, but the problem with that is you have to lift the soy plant out of the earth and do a lot of processing which is really not sustainable. So we isolated the gene from the soy plants and put it into the yeast that is similar to the yeast that produces Belgium beers. Then we engineered that yeast to efficiently produce a high quantity of yeast, which is like a factory that produces protein for us.”