The Impossible Burger is living up to its name: a vegetable-based burger with the looks, taste and texture of real beef, even becoming a popular fixture at some major Houston restaurants, including Underbelly, Hay Merchant and Hopdoddy.
However, a recent New York Times report showed the main ingredient in the Impossible Burger could potentially be a dangerous allergen.
The ingredient in question is called soy leghemoglobin, which the Burger’s website describes as “a substance found in nature in the roots of soybean plants.”
It produces the molecule known as heme, which reportedly is the source of the taste and texture giving the veggie burger the taste and feel of the real thing.
The New York Times further reported the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expressing concerns soy leghemoglobin may be a potential allergen.
An August 2015 memo from the FDA states the agency “believes the arguments presented, individually and collectively, do not establish the safety of soy leghemoglobin for consumption.”
Impossible Foods, the company behind the burger and other vegan meat substitutes, responded to the Times piece with a statement accusing the newspaper of “fail(ing) to detail the extensive safety testing” of the ingredients, and ignoring a “panel of food safety experts from three universities,” which claimed soy leghemoglobin was safe for human consumption.
The company received more than $2 billion in funding toward the research, development and production of soy leghemoglobin as a potential meat substitute.
Federal law does not require the company to submit the ingredients to the FDA for testing.
A spokesperson for the company said they plan to resubmit a petition to have its in-house testing data approved.
Despite conflicting findings, Rachel Konrad, a spokeswoman for Impossible Foods, maintains her company’s foods are okay to consume:
“The Impossible Burger is safe.”