Alternative meats remain a trending food choice, with considerable interest from consumers, restaurants, and grocers. Products such as the Beyond Burger and the Impossible Burger continue making headlines as they make their way into more retail outlets. While imitation meat products are being touted as a healthier alternative to traditional meat, there is growing doubt as to just how nutritious the products are.
The Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) is working to educate consumers on what types of ingredients are used in plant-based meat products. As part of the effort, CCF has also launched the Clean Food Facts website to offer consumers a more in-depth look at what goes into the production of various different types of alternative meats.
The group points out that while nearly 40 percent of plant-based consumers have been found to prefer avoiding processed foods through market research, there is not a lot of awareness of what imitation meat products contain. Many products that are being marketed as a more health-conscious, plant-based alternative to meat still contain ingredients such as erythrosine, tertiary butylhydroquinone, and sodium tripolyphosphate. The most publicized products in the plant-based meat sector, the Impossible Burger and the Beyond Burger each have upwards of 20 different ingredients.
“Despite what the name leads people to believe, plant-based meats are made in industrial facilities, not gardens,” CCF Managing Director Will Coggin said in a press release. “Fake meat companies are trying to promote a ‘health halo’ over their products, but consumers should know that imitation meat is highly processed and in some cases has more calories and sodium than the real thing.”
A study from the National Institutes of Health found that heavily processed foods cause overeating and weight gain. Other studies have also shown a correlation between the consumption of processed food and cardiovascular disease, cancer and early death. While it is unknown exactly how products such as the Impossible or Beyond burgers are made, it does require a significant amount of processing of substantially more ingredients than traditional meat.