Consumer Reports vs Impossible Foods: Are plant-based GMO burgers safe?

, | August 30, 2019
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Plant-based burgers have exploded in popularity over the last year, with dozens of fast food restaurants and grocery stores offering different versions of these products. But the meat alternatives haven’t escape criticism. On August 29, Consumer Reports (CR) published an analysis of the meatless burgers offered by Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat. CR writer Rachel Rabkin Peachman argued that caution is warranted, because we don’t have enough evidence to confirm the safety of the Impossible Burger:

This all-plant, gluten-free burger gets its protein from soy and its fat from a mix of coconut and sunflower oils. But what makes the burger unique, and controversial, is something called soy leghemoglobin.

The compound, which comes from the root of soybean plants, is chemically similar to the heme iron found in meat. Putting it in a veggie burger gives the patty some of the taste, texture, and juicy, bloody look of beef.

Why controversial? For one, though humans have eaten soy for centuries, we haven’t eaten soy leghemoglobin before. And CR’s scientists advise caution when introducing anything new into the food supply.

That same day, Impossible Foods responded:

Regarding soy leghemoglobin, the special ingredient that makes the Impossible Burger meaty and craveable, Consumer Reports said that the “FDA has not conducted any independent tests to confirm the compound’s safety.” In fact, a panel of the nation’s top food-safety experts reviewed test data and unanimously concluded in 2014 that soy leghemoglobin is generally recognized as safe.

In December 2017, the FDA published Impossible Foods’ extensive test data online so that scientists and the public could fully scrutinize and understand soy leghemoglobin. After this extensive and time-consuming independent, public review, in July 2018 the FDA recognized our key ingredient as safe.

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