Impossible Burger Needs FDA Nod to Sell Uncooked to Consumers

Making Impossible Burgers in a bowl. ( Lynn Doan, Bloomberg )

If Impossible Foods, maker of the plant-based Impossible Burger sold in restaurants nationwide, wants to sell its product uncooked directly to consumers, it will need to get pre-market approval to use its key ingredient, soy leghemoglobin, as a color additive, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said in a statement to Bloomberg News on Monday.

  • “If it is in food sold to consumers in its uncooked form, the soy leghemoglobin imparts a red color that is important to the appearance of the food,” the FDA said
  • “Therefore, if the firm wishes to sell the uncooked, red-colored ground beef analogue to consumers, pre-market approval of the soy leghemoglobin as a color additive is required,” the FDA said
  • NOTE: In November, Impossible Foods said in a statement it planned to sell its eponymous burger at grocery stores starting in 2019
    • “By far the No. 1 message from fans on social media is, ‘When will I be able to buy and cook the Impossible Burger at home?’” Impossible Foods’ CEO and Founder Patrick Brown said in the statement
  • Company says soy leghemoglobin is used for meat-like flavor, taste and texture
  • Last week, the agency said the company had filed a petition for soy leghemoglobin to be used as a color additive; FDA has 90 days to respond and can extend that by another 90 days if needed
  • Impossible Foods spokeswoman Rachel Konrad said in an email that the company “filed the color additive petition solely so that we could have maximum flexibility moving forward,” and that the “FDA has a separate regulatory process to approve the use of food additives specifically for color, and Impossible Foods is preparing to engage in that process to ensure it has maximum flexibility as its products and business continue to evolve"
  • Konrad didn’t provide a response to the FDA’s statement to Bloomberg