The man-made beef burger is coming. Do you dare to eat it?

At the (CES) Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in 2019, an American company unveiled a “man made beef” hamburger. Contrary to the conventional impression, this “artificial beef” burger is almost comparable to real meat in color, flavor, and nutritional composition, and requires much less natural resources to produce it. 

“artificial food” cannot be equated with “faking” and “black heart”. For the sustainable development of the earth, to meet the human demand for more and better food, man-made meat is inevitable.

The man-made beef burger is coming. Do you dare to eat it?

At the (CES) Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in 2019, a US company called Impossible Foods unveiled a “man made beef” hamburger and handed out 12000 free hamburgers outside the venue. The burger is purely vegetable and therefore contains no cholesterol, animal hormones or antibiotics, although it contains about the same amount of iron, protein and other nutrients as beef.

In fact, this is the company’s second generation of products, the first generation of products has been on the market in 2016. And this “artificial beef”, in the end is what is going on?

The transformation of plants into meat

If plants can be turned into “meat”, then the production of meat will be much more efficient. 

“Impossible Foods” was founded by Patrick Brown, a professor of biochemistry at Stanford University in the US. It translates literally as “impossible food” and is often translated as “incredible food”. 

Meat is an important source of nutrition for humans, but the production of meat consumes far more natural resources than other foods. For the sustainable development of the earth, to meet the human needs for more and better food, to change the production of meat, has become one of the most popular and most challenging issues. 

From the point of view of nutrition, the core ingredient of meat is protein. Plants also contain a lot of protein, if they can be turned into “meat”, then the production efficiency is much higher. 

Professor Brown’s project is to “synthesize” meat products from plant materials to solve the problems of meat production.

What’s the difference between a faux beef burger and a veggie?

Professor Brown’s ideas are not new. The Chinese have long used tofu, gluten or grilled bran to make vegetarian meats.

Before Professor Brown, many companies in the United States used modern food processing technology to realize the idea of vegetarian meat, which was called “meat substitution” or “imitation of meat.” A company called Beyond Meat, for example, makes veggie burgers that are already on the market in many places.

These products are usually soy protein, gluten or pea protein, adding some additives and meat flavor, in a high-performance extrusion press heating pressure treatment, the final product has a nutritional composition similar to meat. Taste and flavor also have a certain degree of similarity.

Many vegetarians approve of such products, but the difference is still significant when compared to real meat. The two most important points are that the average person can make a significant difference in flavor by relying on meat flavours, and that the color produced by pigments is not natural, and that “pigments” themselves are resistant to many consumers.

The selling point of “incredible food” is its revolutionary breakthrough in flavor and color.

Brown found that the color and flavor of meat is mainly derived from the heme, which further promotes the formation of other flavor substances when heated. Heme is an organic molecule that binds to proteins to form hemoglobin. The color of muscle such as pig, beef and mutton is because it is rich in heme.

Professor Brown’s team found that there was also an abundance of heme in soybean nodules. The soy heme carried in the nodule protein is called “haemoglobin”. Just adding 1% to the vegetarian meat will make the vegetarian meat “imitation” greatly increased.

Professor Brown’s team isolated the gene for the synthesis of haemoglobin and recombined it into yeast, which ferments it to produce it in large quantities. This is far more economical than the isolation of hemoglobin from soybean nodules and saves natural resources.

Through these methods, Professor Brown achieved the complete use of plant raw materials to synthesize meat. Their artificial meat, the degree of imitation than before the meat has a revolutionary improvement. At the same time, much less natural resources are needed to produce-according to Brown’s team, it takes just 5 per cent of land, 26 per cent of water and a 87 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions to produce the same amount of “incredible meat” as cattle.

Nutritional value of the second Generation of “artificial Beef Burger” 

In terms of flavor, taste and environmental value, “incredible foods” do have a lot of appeal. 

In 2016, Professor Brown introduced the first generation of products with water, textured wheat protein, coconut oil and potato protein as the main ingredients. There are also natural spices, soya hemoglobin, yeast extract, salt, soy protein, thickener, zinc and various B vitamins. 

The protein content and nutrient composition can simulate the real beef, but the amino acid composition of wheat protein is quite different from human demand, and the protein quality is relatively low. 

In other words, although the first generation of artificial beef hamburger flavor taste has been greatly improved, but not as nutritious as the real meat, also not as good as the other vegetarian meat on the market. 

The launch of the second generation of products with soy protein instead of wheat protein. The amino acid composition of soy protein is close to human needs, and its protein quality is comparable to that of beef, which makes the second generation of artificial beef burgers nutritionally comparable to real meat.

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Hello, I am a website editor. I've edited more than 10 websites in the last five years. My hobbies are health, life and website technology. For me, writing an article is part of my life.All articles on the page are based on scientific confirmation, not individual speculation, and more source comments will be added in the future.Thank you for reading!

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