Meatless Impossible Burger—Sold in Restaurants—Needs FDA Approval for Grocery Shelves

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.

That was in response to Impossible’s November statement that the company 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

“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.

Last week, the agency said the company had filed a petition for it to be used as a color additive. The 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 “there are many ways Impossible Foods could enter retail, and there is ambiguity about which if any of them might raise color additive issues. We filed a Color Additive Petition so that we could ensure maximum flexibility as we move forward with new commercial applications, including new products and business models.”

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