What makes Impossible meat possible? A 'bloody' ingredient

This Friday, May 3, 2019 file photo shows an Original Impossible Burger, left, and a Cali Burger, from Umami Burger, in New York. A new era of meat alternatives is here, with Beyond Meat becoming the first vegan meat company to go public and Impossible Burger popping up on menus around the country. Several new vegetarian products are competing to win over meat lovers, but two California companies _ Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat _ are grabbing attention for patties that are red before they're cooked, making them resemble raw beef. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

What makes Impossible burgers possible? An engineered ingredient that makes the veggie patty look bloody - and one of many new concoctions food regulators expect to see more of in the coming years.

Several new vegetarian products are competing to win over meat lovers, but two California companies - Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat - are grabbing attention for patties that are red before they're cooked, making them resemble raw beef.

The ingredient Impossible uses hadn't been sold before, and regulators and the company disagreed about whether its purpose was to add color, or just flavor. The company's cooked burgers have been in restaurants since 2016, but it wasn't until July that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave the OK that let Impossible sell its red, uncooked "beef" in grocery stores.