Court Upholds Unique Ingredient in Impossible Burger

May 5, 2021
A federal appeals court has denied a consumer group’s effort to reverse the FDA’s approval for a key ingredient in the Impossible Burger.

A federal appeals court has denied a consumer group’s effort to reverse the FDA’s approval for a key ingredient in the Impossible Burger.

The Center for Food Safety had sued over the presence of legume hemoglobin, or “heme,” in the plant-based analogue ground beef produced by Impossible Foods. Heme is the ingredient that makes the Impossible Burger taste and even “bleed” like a real hamburger. Pat Brown, Impossible Foods’ founder, developed a unique process to manufacture heme, normally made from soy plants, from bioengineered yeast. Forbidding Impossible Foods to use heme in its formulations would likely have crippled the company.

The FDA approved Impossible Foods’ use of heme in 2018. The Center for Food Safety sued in federal court to overturn that approval, saying FDA had not applied the proper legal standard.

The case reached the federal appeals court in San Francisco, which found unanimously for Impossible Foods in a May 3 ruling. Two of the three judges on the panel said the FDA had acted properly, while the third said the Center for Food Safety had no standing to sue.

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