A veggie burger that “bleeds” fake blood has been accused of posing an “existential threat” to New Zealand’s beef industry, amid a growing row over synthetic meat.
The Impossible Burger, which is being served on the national carrier Air New Zealand, has drawn the ire of the acting prime minister Winston Peters, who has said he is “utterly opposed to fake beef,” and the airline should be using real animal products.
Air New Zealand, the country’s national carrier is offering the burger – made of synthetic meat from an American company – to business class passengers on flights from Los Angeles to Auckland.
New Zealand First primary industries spokesperson Mark Patterson issued a press release warning that the veggie burger could pose “an existential threat to New Zealand’s second-biggest export earner” and was a “slap in the face” for the NZ$9bn red meat sector.
“We have Air New Zealand actively promoting synthetic proteins which have a genetic modification component to them. This is not a good example of New Zealand Inc working together for the greater good.”
National MP and agriculture spokesperson Nathan Guy said on Twitter it was “disappointing” that the airline was offering a vegetarian option, prompting non-meat eaters to say New Zealand needed to “keep up with the times.”
“If we sit here producing meat and don’t get our foot into new technology and industries that may possibly replace our own, we’re definitely sticking our head in the sand.” wrote one Twitter user in response to Guy’s tweet.
In a statement, Air New Zealand said the company spent millions of dollars every year buying New Zealand beef and lamb, and the veggie burger posed no threat to the domestic red meat industry.
“In the past year alone, we proudly served around 1.3m New Zealand sourced beef and lamb meals to customers from around the world.”
“Air New Zealand makes no apology for offering innovative product choices for its customers and will continue to do so in the future.”
According to Juliet Sear of the BBC Good Food Guide, the impossible burger – which uses genetically engineered ingredients cooked up in Silicon Valley – was “simply delicious” despite the texture being “a tad too soft and mushy.”
Reviews on Treehugger.com said the burger smelt like liver and you “could definitely tell it wasn’t real meat”, while Revelist discovered the $13 lunch had “a hint of seaweed flavor”, and a “faintly wheat-y aftertaste”.
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