Dennis Sun: Uh-Oh, The Big Taste Test Between REAL Meat And Imitators

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By Dennis Sun, Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Earlier this fall, a study came out on the nutrition and taste of plant-based burger brands, and from a beef producer’s side, it was good news. A burger from beef is still the best.

The study was conducted by an American food product consultancy, Chew from Boston, which is run by a chef and staffed by food scientists from various entities. The group’s “Plant-based Burger Report Card” compared nine of the top-selling analog patties in the U.S., plus a burger by Bubba Foods made from animal-derived ground beef. 

The report card was compiled through a combination of blind taste testing and an analysis of each product’s listed ingredients and nutrition facts. Each burger was objectively graded “A through F” for its performance in three categories: deliciousness which includes raw appearance, cook performance, cooked smell, cooked appearance, flavor, presence and texture; nutrition which includes protein content, protein quality, sodium content, fat comparison and presence of allergens; and sustainability which includes ingredients, packaging and processing.

As one can see, the report card covered just about everything going into a burger. I’m not sure where my hamburgers would rate, but they would rate high based on ingredients.

The good news is Bubba Foods’ animal beef burger rated the highest for deliciousness and nutritional value. The bad news is it rated low for sustainability. 

I think cattle producers are getting a bad rap for sustainability, as there is information to back up the fact that beef production can be sustainable. Because of processing, packaging and transportation of beef, which may impact sustainability, the report had an F for Bubba Foods’ burger.

Among the plant-based burgers, the Impossible Burger ranked high in deliciousness, alongside Bubba Foods’ beef burger. The report said, “It’s by far the closest to traditional beef, but it still has a way to go. Where it fell short was the cooked smell, flavor and off-notes, which were more reminiscent of liver than whole muscle beef.” Well, for those who like liver, that was a slam.

Another important part of the report is the Impossible Burger scored lower on nutrition and sustainability due to its use of soy protein – a common allergen, as well as being associated with deforestation. The deforestation would not apply to American farmers. The report said it downgraded the Impossible Burger’s sustainability ranking due to its use of genetically modified soy-yeast, though this is likely a controversial decision. 

The Beyond Burger scored higher because it uses no genetically modified ingredients, but was rated lower on nutrition and taste. The report said, “The strong smell you get from Beyond Burgers tends to smell less like meat, more in line with pet food, having some super-strong top notes of kerosene and gas. The Beyond Burger suffers from major processing consistency issues, where you will get massive variation from batch-to-batch of their product. The color is also a detractor, as it comes across as super-processed.”

Financially, some of these fake beef products are not doing well – even their stock is tanking. But, more companies are getting involved in fake meat products. Even McDonald’s came out with a plant-based burger product, called McPlant, in Europe recently. 

We know consumers will always favor beef and lamb burgers over the plant-based burgers. Beef and lamb producers just have to stay on top of the issue and stand up for real meat burgers. The competition is well funded, but, remember, our burgers don’t smell like dog food. 

Our dogs are insulted.

The Wyoming Livestock Roundup is a weekly agriculture newspaper available in print and online. To subscribe, visit wylr.net or call 1-800-967-1647.

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