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Bogus bleeding beef

August 2019

Remember the bleeding GM veggie-burgers rolled out across America in 2017? That's the fake meat produced by a similar method to the way Belgian beer's been made for nearly a thousand years? [1]

The Impossible Burger arrived courtesy of $80 million worth of research plus $300 million worth of promotion from foodie celebrities, and a heap of hype. Breathless write-ups name the Impossible Burger this year's 'It' food craze taking America by storm, and a wake-up call to the meat industry.

Indeed, the long-term goal of the bogus burger's manufacturer, Impossible Foods Inc., is to disrupt the meat industry and convert meat eaters to their products. Impossible Burgers are set to be followed by Impossible Sausages for pizzas and Impossible Steak.
The Impossible Burger 1:0 was made from GM yeast sludge, wheat protein and coconut oil. It was described by one journalist and restaurant critic as short on beef flavour and texture, despite the fake blood.

After retooling to improve its appeal to health-conscious and gluten-intolerant burger-eaters, and to make it feel more like meat and easier to cook, Impossible Burger 2:0 was launched.

The new Impossible look has 30% less sodium (salt), and 40% less saturated fat (coconut oil is 90% saturated fat). Instead of wheat (which may well have had residues of probable-carcinogen, glyphosate herbicide [2]) they now contain GM soya protein (which is even more likely to have glyphosate residues).

Whether the Impossible Burger 2:0 is any more appealing than 1:0, or a better bogus burger, seems to depend on how it's been prepared.

As reported by the Impossible-eating journalist, the bogus burger can be likened to consuming balsa wood. However, if the chef has added salt, gooey cheese and pickle (all of which will add back the salt taken out, and the cheese will add back the saturated fat) to give the balsa wood some flavour, texture and smell, the Impossible Burger 2:0 is a "helluva" good mimic.

Impossible Foods claims its burgers are available at about 8,000 outlets around America, and provides a handy online locator map to guide you to your local Impossible experience. However, many of the hundreds of outlets indicated in New York City turn out to be hundreds of miles away, and when you get there you may find it impossible to get one. This is because they are "temporarily" unavailable and have been so for some months, and in some establishments have been indefinitely relegated to an off-menu item (meaning you have to request them).

COMMENT We can only speculate why the non-meat burger has become impossible to produce. Perhaps, compared with the relatively small amounts of yeast used in Belgian beer-making for nearly a thousand years, the GM Impossible yeast is less stable or less amenable to culturing or less easy to keep supplied with optimum nutrients on the huge scale needed to feed Impossible factories [3]


Even when they were available, the Impossible Burger accounted for only 1-2% of burger turnover.

Some less trendy chefs aren't putting the bogus burgers on the menu because they're three times the cost of the bovine version. Indeed, Impossible Burgers seem to come with a price tag of $12 - $21, which seems a lot to pay for a patty of yeast sludge bulked up with soya.

Impossible Burgers are on the market with a self-asserted 'Generally Recognized as Safe' (GRAS) status, to which the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has "no further questions". The FDA simply reminds the company that it is responsible for the safety of its products.

It seems the FDA was fobbed off with two very short rat feeding studies (14 and 28 days instead of the standard 90 days), with only ten rats per experimental group. Despite this statistically weak design, the studies produced some statistically significant differences involving multiple different organ systems. These included indications of blood cell damage, one of which can signal anaemia, kidney disease and inflammation. Impossible Foods predictably dismissed these as of no toxicological relevance.

Given that the experiments were very short, very small-scale, and used young, healthy adult animals, they could only have revealed acute toxic damage. It's therefore of even more concern that preliminary signs of possible chronic effects weren't followed up in larger, longer term feeding studies.

COMMENT If Impossible Foods has its way, children will become a major target for its fake meat. This should make safety a priority.


Since very few people seem to be eating the fake burgers, their safety hasn't, so far, been a major issue. However, some members of the public have experienced gastro-intestinal problems after eating Impossible Burgers and have contacted GMO-Free USA. The organisation has, therefore launched an online platform for people to report Impossible reactions. Comments received will form "unique data on adverse health reactions not being tracked elsewhere" because "there is currently no simple mechanism for people to report these problems to the FDA". GMO-Free USA will send their findings to the FDA and to Impossible Foods.

OUR COMMENT


US regulators seem very good at ensuring they don't see adverse food reactions, especially if there's any GM involved. They're not, however, very good at protecting the public nor at requiring meaningful, independent science.

The suggestion of anaemia is particularly disturbing. Bogus beef contains a GM iron-containing protein which could be sending bogus messages to the body about the status of its iron and red-cell levels. This could cause serious health problems in some individuals.

Large-scale production of this GM yeast with its artificial iron-containing protein raises a number of concerns. There are 42 other novel proteins present in it. All yeast is, by its nature, difficult to contain. Recently live, culturable beer yeast was found in ancient Egyptian clay jugs five time older than the earliest Belgian brew. These all point the possibility of a toxic GM legacy the world could do without.

Alert any friends or relatives you have in America about the GM-Free USA survey: https://gmofreeusa.org/take-action/impossible-burger-health-survey/.

Background
[1] IMPOSSIBLE BLEEDING BURGERS - September 2017
[3] KEEP IT REAL - November 2016

SOURCES:
  • Steve Cuozzo, Why the overhyped Impossible Burger won't survive in NYC, New York Post, 4.06.19
  • Rat Feeding Study Suggests the Impossible Burger May Not Be Safe to Eat, www.gmoscience.org, 25.06.19
  • Unbeerlievable: Ale made from 5,000-year-old yeast, Metro, 30.05.19

    Photo Creative Commons

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