Impossible Foods wins court ruling to use red, genetically modified color additive in beef patties

Tuesday, May 04, 2021

Impossible Foods won a court ruling that allows it to continue using a key additive in its popular meat substitute, over the safety objections of a food-safety group, Bloomberg reports.

The federal appeals court in San Francisco Monday upheld a decision by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to approve the use of soy leghemoglobin as a color additive in Impossible’s imitation beef patties. The 2019 decision cleared a hurdle for Impossible to extend its burger sales from restaurants into grocery stores beginning that year.

Soy leghemoglobin, or “heme,” is a red, genetically modified ingredient that gives the Impossible Burger its meat-like flavor.

Impossible has long touted its “heme” as the key to its meat-like flavor, but its use has meant additional regulatory hurdles and challenges in the U.S. and has kept doors to major markets, including China and the European Union, closed. Beyond Meat, its main competitor, often points to its GMO-free ingredient list in its marketing.

The Center for Food Safety didn’t immediately respond to an email on the ruling.

In its ruling, the court denied the Center for Food Safety’s request to overturn the FDA decision. Two judges said the FDA applied the correct standard in reviewing the safety of soy leghemoglobin and that the agency’s decision was supported by “substantial evidence.” They also said the FDA could rely on a study commissioned by Impossible.

The third judge declined to consider whether CFS had raised valid concerns, saying the group lacked standing to challenge the FDA ruling.