In this file:
· Will Cows Be Obsolete?
Inside the race to redefine “meat” and change burgers forever.
· Plant-based meats sound healthy, but they’re still processed foods
… the World Health Organization said that eating heme—a main ingredient in the Impossible Foods burger—is linked with the formation of carcinogens in the gut…
· Fresh from the lab: Startups make meat that avoids slaughter
… "The large-scale livestock industry is viewed by many as an unnecessary evil," the report says...
Will Cows Be Obsolete?
Inside the race to redefine “meat” and change burgers forever.
By Marissa Conrad, Grub Street
July 10, 2019
Jon McIntyre, a biochemist who has worked in the food industry for 26 years, can tell you exactly what makes a hamburger so good. “That first bite, where your teeth sink through the meat — there’s texture to it, and flavor,” he says. “If it’s a really good, juicy burger, that flavor pushes out from your teeth, almost into the sides of your mouth, and you feel that really great sensation of the moisture. The flavor, you can almost taste it in your nose — that’s called retronasal.”
This harmony of taste, texture, and smell — call it the Full Burger Experience — is extremely complicated. Think of it as a trillion-piece jigsaw puzzle of animal proteins and fats and acids and fibers. Yet the notion that one can attain FBE without killing a cow is, suddenly, among the most lucrative ideas in food. Led by companies like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat, high-tech, plant-based burger patties aimed at carnivores who want to fight climate change have seen soaring sales at restaurants like Burger King, White Castle, and TGI Friday’s. Nestlé, the largest food company in the world, just announced plans to bring a plant-based burger to U.S. supermarkets by fall. Plant-derived burgers from start-ups such Before the Butcher (just acquired by a major ground-beef producer) and Hungry Planet are also on schedule to debut before the end of the year.
It’s a plant-protein arms race, and everyone has a gimmick: Beyond’s latest burger, released in June, is studded with coconut fat and cocoa fat to mimic the marbling of beef, while apple-juice extract helps the patties brown during cooking. When Nestlé’s Awesome Burger hits stores (under the company’s Sweet Earth label), vital wheat gluten will give it a beeflike texture. A patty called the Perfect Burger, launched two weeks ago by Dr. Praeger’s, offers beet-juice “blood,” a shtick that some competitors have already ditched. The Impossible Burger has soy leghemoglobin, a molecule related to the hemoglobin in cow (and human) blood but found in the roots of soy plants. It’s this heme, as it’s called, that gives Impossible’s faux meat the iron flavor of your favorite burger.
That’s the dream, at least. For all the hype around heme and marbling and pea-protein patties that look and taste just! like! meat!, the hard truth remains: Cow-based burgers are, for the time being, still trouncing the competition, but that’s only encouraging these companies and scientists to push harder and examine the Full Burger Experience in ever-more-granular detail.
At Motif Ingredients, a four-month-old lab in Boston’s Seaport District, the team lead by McIntyre, the biochemist and a former PepsiCo VP, uses molecular science to break down every aspect of the FBE: texture, color, aroma, how meat binds and releases fat, even, McIntyre says, “how flavor is created.” From there, Motif, via its parent lab Ginkgo Bioworks (“the organism company”), plans to make replicas of a burger’s essential proteins and fats, animal-free stunt doubles that are created without ever touching a cow.
Ultimately, Motif and Ginkgo want to sell a tool kit of plant-based components that will allow buyers, from big companies to entrepreneurs, to manufacture their own tastes-like-meat burgers (or any other plant-based protein replacement, even one that doesn’t exist in nature — the flavor of a burger meets the texture of a sausage, say). “My job,” McIntyre says, “is to allow innovators to create all these new things. Isn’t that cool?”
The scientists at Motif, of course, aren’t the only ones meticulously breaking down beef...
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Plant-based meats sound healthy, but they’re still processed foods
By Chase Purdy, Quartz
July 1, 2019
Twice in June, ingredients used by both of America’s most popular plant-based meat companies were called into question.
On June 21, a consumer interest group issued concerns around one of the ingredients in Beyond Meat’s production process. And earlier in June, the World Health Organization said that eating heme—a main ingredient in the Impossible Foods burger—is linked with the formation of carcinogens in the gut.
So far, both companies have weathered the criticism. But increased scrutiny of Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods’ meat alternatives poses a big question for all companies offering substitutes to edible animal flesh. How do they truthfully and thoughtfully communicate what they are making—highly processed food—to consumers who are invested in their social missions, yet dubious of food that humans have tinkered with?
For their part, Beyond Meat has explained that the consumer group is wrong about its use of a chemical called hexane. “The pea protein we use is extracted using a water-based process,” said Kelli Wilson of Beyond Meat in a statement. “There are no other solvents and that process at no time involves the use of or exposure to hexane in any way.”
Plant-based meat companies are ultimately making processed foods, but their marketing is more in line with natural, organic offerings. “I was encouraging the plant-based companies to recognize this a couple years ago,” says Jack Bobo, a food technology consultant who works with companies making meat alternatives.
At the time, the companies didn’t seem to consider the fact that groups opposed to genetically-modified and processed foods would eventually come after them. “They often tried to position themselves as being in the organic, gluten-free, natural product space,” Bobo says.
Now, Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are increasingly facing questions around how their products are made. The first backlash arguably hit in 2018, when the US Food and Drug Administration expressed concern over a key ingredient in the Impossible Foods burger. The company uses genetically modified yeast to produce the soy leghemoglobin, or “heme,” that gives its burger a meat-like flavor. The agency later gave the company its nod of approval.
An even newer category of meat alternative companies would do well to pay attention. Cell-cultured meat producers like JUST, Aleph Farms, and Memphis Meat make animal protein that doesn’t require the slaughtering of animals. If the plant-based meat concerns catch enough public attention, they risk hurting the perception of all meat alternatives—including the cell-cultured products that haven’t even hit the market. “Anybody can poison the well for everybody,” says Bobo.
Some cell-cultured food companies are tackling their messaging even before products hit shelves...
Fresh from the lab: Startups make meat that avoids slaughter
By Terence Chea, Associated Press
via WWMT (MI) - July 9th 2019
EMERYVILLE, Calif. (AP) — Uma Valeti slices into a pan-fried chicken cutlet in the kitchen of his startup, Memphis Meats. He sniffs the tender morsel on his fork before taking a bite. He chews slowly, absorbing the taste.
"Our chicken is chicken ... you've got to taste it to believe it," Valeti says.
This is no ordinary piece of poultry. No chicken was raised or slaughtered to harvest the meat. It was produced in a laboratory by extracting cells from a chicken and feeding them in a nutrient broth until the cell culture grew into raw meat.
Memphis Meats, based in Emeryville, California, is one of a growing number of startups worldwide that are making cell-based or cultured meat. They want to offer an alternative to traditional meat production that they say is damaging the environment and causing unnecessary harm to animals, but they are far from becoming mainstream and face pushback from livestock producers.
"You are ultimately going to continue the choice of eating meat for many generations to come without putting undue stress on the planet," said Valeti, a former cardiologist who co-founded Memphis Meats in 2015 after seeing the power of stem cells to treat disease.
The company, which also has produced cell-grown beef and duck, has attracted investments from food giants Cargill and Tyson Foods as well as billionaires Richard Branson and Bill Gates.
A report released in June by consulting firm A.T. Kearney predicts that by 2040, cultured meat will make up 35 percent of meat consumed worldwide, while plant-based alternatives will compose 25 percent.
"The large-scale livestock industry is viewed by many as an unnecessary evil," the report says...