The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has changed their status on the Impossible Burger, which was one of the first of its kind. The plant-based ‘bleeding’ burger was voluntarily submitted to the FDA in 2014 for a GRAS review – otherwise known as a ‘generally recognised as safe’.
Impossible Foods proposed it as that is food fit for human consumption, however, the FDA disagreed and questioned the ingredients used in the burger. They weren’t calling the burger unsafe to eat, but were looking for more information on soy leghemoglobin protein – the main ingredient in the burger which assists in the texture and ‘bleeding’ appearance.
Due to this rejection by the FDA, Impossible Foods carried out studies on rats. This caused problems for the plant-based burger, which until then, was deemed a vegan product. The ethics of testing the substance on animals refines it to being a plant-based burger and most people following a wholly vegan lifestyle avoid the brand.
However, Impossible Foods resubmitted the information following the tests. On Monday, the FDA returned with no further questions about the product. In a statement sent to Impossible Foods, the FDA said: “Based on the information that Impossible Foods provided, as well as other information available to the FDA, we have no questions at this time regarding Impossible Foods’ conclusion that soy leghemoglobin preparation is GRAS under its intended conditions of use to optimize flavour in ground beef analogue products intended to be cooked.”
Impossible Foods CEO Pat Brown, said: “Getting s no-questions letter from the FDA is a big win for Impossible Foods – and for science, people, and the planet. While I always anticipated receiving a no-questions letter, I have been consistently impressed by the FDA’s diligence and eagerness to dive into the science behind our test data.”
The main ingredient in the burger, soy leghemoglobin, is found in the root of soy plants, which isn’t usually eaten by humans. This is what the FDA were questioning, however, it is similar in structure to other proteins already eaten by humans.
As the meat-alternatives market continues to grow, it’s likely more start-ups will face the same questions from the FDA.