The FDA ruled that soy leghemoglobin, commonly referred to as heme, was 'generally recognized as safe' back in 2017 - but Impossible Foods' use of the ingredient as a color additive has only recently been cleared.
'Uniquely meaty flavor'
"Although heme has been consumed every day for hundreds of thousands of years, Impossible Foods discovered that it's what makes meat taste like meat. We make the Impossible Burger using heme from soy plants - identical to the heme from animals - which is what gives it its uniquely meaty flavor," Impossible Foods' website states.
Following the FDA's ruling, the company will be able to sell the product directly to consumers instead of only to restaurants - providing there are no objections from anyone 'adversely affected' by the ingredient in the next 30 days.
According to CNBC, the company's Chief Legal Officer, Dana Wagner, said:“We've been engaging with the FDA for half a decade to ensure that we are completely compliant with all food-safety regulations — for the Impossible Burger and for future products and sales channels."
Impossible Foods itself considers its meatless patty to be plant-based rather than vegan.
This is because, in 2017, heme was fed to rats in order to test its safety - 180 rats were killed as a result.
CEO Pat Brown reacted to the controversy, publishing a statement titled The Agonizing Dilemma of Animal Testing.