Impossible Burger ~ What’s Really In It?

By Annette Demeny

The Impossible Whopper, made by Impossible Foods, is being advertised by Burger King as a plant-based alternative to the Whopper. This plant-based burger that “bleeds” can now be found on the menus, not only at Burger King, but at Cheesecake Factory, Red Robin, White Castle, and many other national restaurant chains. Consumers praise the burger’s meat-like texture and the product is advertised as an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional beef burgers.


Judge for yourself. Here’s a few comparisons of the Impossible Whopper and a regular Burger King Whopper. The impossible Whopper patty is made from 24 ingredients. The most important ingredient is soy protein. The Whopper patty has just one ingredient. That would be beef.


​The Impossible Whopper has 630 calories, mostly from the added oils. The Whopper has 660 calories.


One difference is the amount of sodium in a traditional beef burger versus an Impossible Whopper. Beef contains very little sodium, unless added when cooking, whereas Impossible Whopper contain 370 milligrams or 16 percent of the daily value.


Now, let’s compare the estrogen hormone in an Impossible Whopper to the Whopper made from hormone implanted beef. The Impossible Whopper has 44 mg of estrogen and the Whopper has 2.5 ng of estrogen. Metric system refresher…there are 1 million nanograms (ng) in one milligram (mg). That means an Impossible Whopper has 18 million times as much estrogen as a regular Whopper!


One very important ingredient that bears mentioning is the form of Heme that’s found in the Impossible Whopper. Heme is a high-quality iron that is naturally present in all beef. This is what give’s beef it’s red color. To get that same red color and re-create that essential nutrient, Impossible Foods took the DNA from soybean plants, where heme is found in the root nodules, and inserting it into a genetically engineered yeast that is then fermented to mass produce heme. So, the impossible whopper is technically a genetically modified organism (GMO).


This is the first time that people have consumed this product. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is supposed to require testing to make sure that this GMO protein does not cause allergic reactions in people. Unfortunately, instead of requiring Impossible Foods to file a new Food Additive Petition, FDA allowed the company to use a weak regulatory process called “Generally Recognized As Safe” (GRAS) where the company does its own research and chooses its own reviewers to self-certify that its product is safe for human consumption.


Unfortunately, this isn’t the only genetic engineering in the Impossible Whopper. The soy used for the protein in the burger itself is GMO soybeans. Instead of choosing an organic soybean, which is higher in protein, the company uses a cheaper alternative. GMO soybeans are are often sprayed with large amounts of herbicide glyphosate, a product shown to cause cancer when exposed to it. Check out my blog post, Roundup Kills People Not The Lawn, to learn more about the effects of glyphosate.


Although, I encourage people to eat less meat and choose more plant-based proteins, I do not believe we should be replacing conventional animal products with ultra-processed, poorly studied, and under-regulated genetically engineered products. If you choose to eat meat, be sure to consume a grass-fed beef or free-range organic meat. More common plant-based proteins are found in lentils, beans, chickpeas, nuts, broccoli, sweet potatoes and spinach.


Finally, get to know what your food is made of, where it’s from and how it’s produced. Beware of the “marketing” of so-called “healthy” alternatives.



Center for Food Safety

Ben Greenfield


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What’s your favorite NON-GMO plant-based burger? Let me know in the comments below…




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