When Impossible Foods released its signature “bleeding” veggie burger in 2016, restaurant customers raved about the meatless patty that tastes startingly like the real thing.
There was just one problem: Health-conscious buyers worried that Impossible Burgers weren’t any more nutritious than traditional ground beef.
According to Consumer Reports, the previous Impossible Burger had a higher sodium content than other veggie burgers on the market. Its was also higher in saturated fat than a traditional meat patty, and had no dietary fiber.
For the first time since releasing its original formula, the company has unveiled a new burger that appears to address these concerns. The burger is being rolled out in select restaurants, but could soon be available in US grocery stores.
The Impossible Burger 2.0 contains 30% less sodium and two-thirds of the saturated fat listed on the previous recipe. The company also bills it as “a good source of dietary fiber” with as much protein as a serving of ground beef.
The new recipe uses soy protein instead of wheat protein after the company received complaints that the burger wasn’t gluten-free.
While a quarter-pound beef patty has around 290 calories, 80 milligrams of cholesterol, and 23 grams of total fat, the quarter-pound Impossible Burger has 240 calories, zero cholesterol, and 14 grams of total fat.
These nutrition facts should be taken with a grain of salt since restaurants may serve more than a quarter-pound patty, but they signal improvements to the original formula.
The company also said the new burger tastes even better.
“With the new recipe, it is more beefy and juicy than ever before and there is that distinctive meaty char flavor that people crave,” said Laura Kliman, the company’s senior flavor scientist. “There are even some restaurants that are completely switching all the meat on their menus to Impossible meat.”
“I have always thought that the [old] recipe is really great, but this takes it to a whole different level,” said Mark Nicandri, the senior vice president of operations at the Northern California restaurant group Gott’s Roadside, which serves the burger.
Environmentalists have expressed concerned that heme is made with genetically engineered ingredients, and some consumers have been spooked by claims that “excessive” heme consumption could be linked to diabetes or cancer.
The FDA laid these concerns to rest in July when they declared the ingredient safe to eat. The existing scientific evidence also comes out in favor of heme having no real health risk.
The Impossible Burger 2.0 still contains heme, which gives it the “bleeding” quality that resembles real meat.
By February 4, the new patty will be distributed to all 5,000 locations that serve Impossible Burgers in the US. Customers can expect to see it on their plates by mid-March.