Impossible Foods’ plant-based burger, known as the Impossible Burger, has been making headlines thanks to its realistic qualities. The burger is even said to bleed like real meat, and boasts claims of being environmentally friendly and “100% free of hormones, antibiotics and artificial ingredients.”
This, of course, is quite deceptive — especially for something that contains GMO ingredients that are no doubt grown with the help of Roundup, a toxic weed killer. Beyond that, the Impossible Burger also contains “yeast extract” — which is a notorious euphemism for the well-known excitotoxin, monosodium glutamate, or MSG. So, should you really buy into the hype surrounding this new meatless burger that bleeds? It certainly seems that there are plenty of reasons not to.
The problem with GMO soy
GMO soy is one such reason. Soy, and especially genetically modified varieties, have been linked to a number of ill effects. For example, there are many concerns about the phytoestrogens and goitrogens found in soy products. These compounds have been linked to cancer and thyroid problems, among other health issues. Processed soy-containing foods made with unfermented soy, in particular, are of great concern.
While the “heme” found in the Impossible Burger is reportedly comprised of a fermented soy and yeast concoction, the burger still boasts soy protein isolate as an ingredient. As a 2009 report from Cornucopia revealed, the overwhelming majority of soy protein is processed using hexane. Hexane is a toxic solvent that is used for extraction. It’s also a neurotoxic byproduct of the gasoline refining industry. Most soy protein isolate is created via a hexane bath.
As Cornucopia’s Behind the Bean report reveals, “The soy protein ingredients in most nonorganic foods such as vegetarian burgers and nutrition bars are processed with the use of hexane.” The Impossible Burger is not an organic burger at this time — which leaves the door open for hexane residues in their soy protein isolate. Hexane residues of up to 21 parts per million were found in the soy meal often used to create soy protein for food products, including veggie burgers and infant formula.
Soy protein processing practices don’t just endanger the food supply, however. The processing of soy via hexane is also problematic for the environment. Even the EPA considers hexane to be a “hazardous air pollutant.”And as the Cornucopia report reveals, even products that claim to use “natural” ingredients or “natural soy” likely still contain hexane-extracted soy protein.
These issues are compounded by the fact that most soy grown and used for food products is of a genetically modified variety — and as we all know, GMOs come with their own set of concerns. Beyond the inadequate safety testing of GMO crops, there are several issues with GMO soy. Food Matters reports a recent study found that GM soybeans come with a disturbingly high formaldehyde content — a known carcinogen– and also a lower content of glutathione. Glutathione is a natural antioxidant that’s integral to the body’s natural detoxification processes.
And in 2014, research revealed that GM soy also boasted high amounts of glyphosate and glyphosate breakdown products — in fact, the GM soybeans had levels of glyphosate that the scientists described as “greater than is typical for most vitamins.” The researchers said their findings indicated that GM soy soaks up glyphosate during the growing season. Glyphosate is the key ingredient to Roundup, Monsanto’s star herbicide, and it’s been associated with a myriad of health issues. (RELATED: Read more stories about glyphosate’s toxicity at Glyphosate.news)
Yeast extract: the “natural” name for MSG
Free glutamate is the active ingredient in MSG, but MSG is not the only place it can be found. Several other food additives, such as yeast extract, contain large amounts of free glutamate. And when an additive contains less than 78 percent free glutamate, the term “MSG” does not need to appear on a food label — just the name of the ingredient. Yeast extract is a very common flavor enhancer that contains free glutamate, and because it has such a “natural” sound to it, it’s often used to flavor so-called “natural” processed foods — like the Impossible Burger.
MSG has been associated with a wide range of negative effects, largely impart due to its ability to excite the nervous system — which is why it’s considered by many to be an “excitotoxin.” This over-stimulation yields an inflammatory response. In turn, MSG consumption has been linked to migraines, hives, burning sensations, upset stomachs, and muscle fatigue or tightness. But research has shown that the effects of MSG don’t end there: The excitotoxic nature of MSG can cause neurons to essentially excite themselves to death. Neuroscientist Dr. John Olney found that MSG actually damages parts of the brain.
The effects of MSG can be cumulative, meaning that repeated exposures over a period of time can lead to negative consequences, but the effects are not necessarily immediate. Because humans have more glutamate receptors than the animals often used for testing, such as rats, we are actually more susceptible to the damage MSG is capable of creating.
The only “impossible” thing about the Impossible Burger is that it’s impossible to consider this burger “healthy” and “all-natural.”