The “Impossible Burger” — also known as the veggie burger that bleeds — has been drumming up interest in chefs, investors (like Bill Gates) and consumers since Impossible Foods announced its hyper meat-like veggie burger in 2016.
But there is one group that hasn’t jumped on team Impossible — the Food and Drug Administration.
The FDA has refused to declare the meat-replacement patty safe to eat because of concerns it has about one of the additives the burger uses.
Soy leghemoglobin is an agent used to give the burger its meat-like quality, and it is what makes the vegan patty bleed like a regular burger. The soy leghemoglobin is a substance, as noted in the New York Times, that is found in nature in the roots of soybean plants. The company recreates this in the Impossible Foods laboratory.
Even though the ingredient is natural, it has never been consumed by humans and the FDA is worried that it could be an allergen.
However, even though the FDA has expressed concerns over the hamburger, Impossible Foods is still allowed to sell their products to restaurants and to consumers. As the New York Times pointed out:
“The F.D.A.’s approval is not required for new ingredients. Companies can hire consultants to run tests, and they have no obligation to inform the agency of their findings, a process known as self-affirmation.”
A process which Impossible Foods has undergone. In a statement posted on Eater from the Silicon Valley startup responding to the New York Times article:
“The article fails to detail the extensive safety testing and investigation that the Impossible Burger and its key ingredient, soy leghemoglobin, have undergone. In particular, a panel of food safety experts from three universities has agreed multiple times that the product is safe.”
The company will have to keep testing, though, if it wants a sign-off by the FDA.