Founded by Patrick O. Brown, M.D., Ph.D., Impossible Foods is a Silicon Valley startup on a mission to make the global food system more sustainable. The first product is the Impossible Burger.
We started in 2011 with a simple question: “Why does meat taste like meat?” We spent the next five years researching every aspect of the unique sensory experience of meat, from how it looks raw to how it sizzles and what happens when we sink our teeth into a burger. Then we recreated the precise flavors, textures, aromas, and nutrition of ground beef -- using only plants. By understanding meat at the molecular level, we made a juicy, delicious burger that's better for the planet.
Compared to a burger made from cows, making an Impossible Burger uses about 1/20th the land, 1/4th the water, and produces 1/8th the greenhouse gas emissions.
Where is the Impossible Burger currently available?
The Impossible Burger is sizzling in select restaurants in New York, Las Vegas, the San Francisco Bay Area, the Los Angeles area, and across Texas. You can find the ever-growing list of restaurants serving it on our Locations page.
When will the Impossible Burger be available in my area?
We have ambitious plans to open new production facilities and partner with a ton more restaurants across the United States in the coming months. Hit refresh often—we'll share new locations ASAP. Stay up-to-date by joining our mailing list, or just follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
For all the international burger-eaters: right now we're focused on continuing our US launch, but we're really excited to share the Impossible Burger with the rest of the world in the coming years.
Is the Impossible Burger available in retail? Can I order it online?
Right now, the Impossible Burger isn't available in grocery stores. You can't buy it online, either. We're currently focused on entering more and more restaurants across the US as we expand production.
But don't be discouraged! We hope to enter retail in coming years, and we’re working hard to make that happen. Go ahead and indulge in all your home grilling fantasies—just know that it's going to be a bit of a wait.
In the meantime, you can find a complete list of restaurants serving the Impossible Burger on our Locations page.
What are the nutrition facts of the Impossible Burger?
The Impossible Burger has the health benefits of being free from cholesterol and contaminants associated with beef production. The bioavailable protein, iron, and fat content are comparable to conventional 80/20 ground beef.
What are the ingredients of the Impossible Burger?
The Impossible Burger is made from simple ingredients found in nature, including wheat protein, coconut oil, potato protein, and heme. Never heard of heme? Is responsible for the characteristic of taste and aroma of meat, it catalyzes all the flavors when meat is cooked. Heme is exceptionally abundant in animal muscle – and it’s a basic building block of life in all organisms, including plants. We discovered how to take heme from plants and produce it using fermentation -- similar to the method that’s been used to make Belgian beer for nearly a thousand years. Adding heme to the Impossible Burger makes it a carnivore’s delight. Super tasty.
Full Ingredient List:
Water, Textured Wheat Protein, Coconut Oil, Potato Protein, Natural Flavors, 2% or less of: Leghemoglobin (soy), Yeast Extract, Salt, Soy Protein Isolate, Konjac Gum, Xanthan Gum, Vitamin C, Thiamin (Vitamin B1), Zinc, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin B12.
What is the "leghemoglobin (soy)" ingredient?
Heme is an iron-containing molecule that occurs naturally in every single plant and animal. It’s an essential molecular building block of life. Heme gives your blood its ability to carry oxygen. It’s found in all living organisms, and it's been consumed every day—heck, every second—for hundreds of thousands of years..
Heme is super abundant in animal muscle, and that's what makes a burger so flavorful. It's also why meat is a particularly good source of iron. The heme found in animal muscle is carried by a protein called myoglobin.
Plants, particularly nitrogen-fixing plants and legumes, also have heme. The heme found in these plants is carried by leghemoglobin, which is closely related to myoglobin. Leghemoglobin in the soy plant is called soy leghemoglobin. The heme molecule in plant-based heme is atom-for-atom identical to the heme molecule found in meat. It’s what makes the Impossible Burger so rich and decadent.
Do you produce heme by genetic modification?
Yes. We genetically engineer yeast to make a key ingredient: heme. The process allows us to produce the Impossible Burger at scale with the lowest achievable environmental impact.
We start with the gene for a protein called leghemoglobin, a heme protein that is naturally found in the root nodules of soy plants. Leghemoglobin is similar to myoglobin, the heme protein that is exceptionally abundant in animal muscles, binds oxygen and gives meat its unique flavor and aroma.
We add the soy leghemoglobin gene to a yeast strain, and grow the yeast via fermentation. Then we isolate the leghemoglobin, or heme, from the yeast. We add heme to the Impossible Burger to give it the intense, meaty flavor, aroma and cooking properties of animal meat.
By producing our heme in yeast, we avoid digging up soy plants to harvest the root nodules, which would promote erosion and release carbon stored in the soil. This enables us to produce heme sustainably at high volume and make plant-based meat for millions of people, offsetting the environmental impact of animal agriculture.
How do I know plant-based heme is safe?
Nothing is more important to Impossible Foods than the health and safety of our consumers. Impossible Foods is fully compliant with all U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations. Based on a rigorous review by an expert panel of food safety scientists from the University of Nebraska, University of Wisconsin and Virginia Commonwealth University, the Impossible Burger is “generally recognized as safe” or GRAS and has been since 2014.
The heme in the Impossible Burger is identical to the heme humans have been consuming for hundreds of thousands of years in meat and other foods. We’ve conducted rigorous testing, including a stringent rat feeding study that found no adverse effects even at consumption levels of leghemoglobin 200 times higher than a human would be likely to consume.
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