meat alternatives

The Impossible Burger Is Officially Certified Kosher

Shalom, veggie burger. Photo: Jonathan Wiggs/Boston Globe via Getty Images

Silicon Valley food tech rests for no one, and that, in some ways, is the biggest hurdle facing cutting-edge start-ups like Memphis Meats and Impossible Foods. The FDA has already warned more research into the safety of high-tech veggie burgers is necessary (it’s unsure about leghemoglobin, the legume protein that makes them “bleed”). But there’s another set of strict regulators these companies have to satisfy: the groups that certify these groundbreaking foods meet different religious diets, and in this one area at least, the meat-substitute industry has scored a new victory.

The Orthodox Union, the Jewish organization that operates the largest kosher-certification agency, has given the Impossible Burger its official nod of approval. The group’s database comprises more than 800,000 kosher-certified foods worldwide (you’ve almost certainly seen its hechsher symbol on jars and packages — it’s that U with the circle around it). And now, that list includes the start-up’s plant burgers.

Granted, it wasn’t a controversial addition; the Impossible Burger is already vegan, so a good number of Jewish dietary rules (like the ones for slaughtering meat, or mixing meat and dairy) didn’t apply. But Impossible’s certification is still a watershed in the sense that it’s another inroads for the beef-killer. “Getting kosher certification is an important milestone,” CEO Patrick Brown says in a statement. “We want the Impossible Burger to be ubiquitous, and that means it must be affordable and accessible to everyone — including people who have food restrictions for religious reasons.”

People who keep kosher have of course had veggie-burger options available for years, but Impossible Food’s version — currently available in 1,500 restaurants, but a mystery to observant Jews up till now — right now is the one sucking up all the air in the room. The company adds that it also expects to receive halal certification later this year.

The Impossible Burger Has Been Officially Certified Kosher