Startup Aims to Change ‘burger planet’ Choices

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Burgers could be set for an overhaul if a Californian startup has anything to do with it.

Impossible Food is trying to persuade consumers to eat burger patties that don’t contain any meat.

It wants to bring fake meat to the masses and its Impossible Burger is made of ingredients including wheat, potatoes and coconut oil.

The company supplies meatless products to more than 1,500 US restaurants and recently expanded into Hong Kong.

“The primary motivation was the huge environmental impact [of meat-eating],” commented company founder Dr Pat Brown, a biochemist who in 2009 began an ambitious quest to create a plant-based product that people would prefer instead of meat.

“We want to save this wonderful planet for future generations, and it really is at critical risk due to, believe it or not, our use of animal and food production technologies.”

Brown, who’s a vegan, previously worked as a professor at Stanford Medical School’s Department of Biochemistry.

After years of experiments, he says he invented a plant-based “meat” in 2011 – and Impossible Foods began.

According to Brown, a key part of his recipe is a molecule called “heme” that helps give food a meaty flavor. It’s found in meat, but Brown has patented a plant-based version.

The company says the Impossible Burger’s greenhouse gas emissions are about 87% lower than those from regular ground beef burgers from cows.

Impossible Foods opened its first large-scale production facility in Oakland, California, last year.

Brown’s project has gained heavyweight backing. To date, Impossible Foods has raised more than $400 million in funding from investors including Google Ventures and Bill Gates.

But the startup is yet to win over the US Food and Drug Administration, which has expressed concern that the company’s version of heme hasn’t previously been consumed by humans.

Brown said the company has voluntarily submitted safety data to the FDA and is “very confident that they’re going to find it persuasive.”

His long-term goal is extremely ambitious: he says he wants meat substitutes to “completely replace animals as a food production technology by 2035.”

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