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FDA still can’t figure out if these meatless burgers will harm you

Published Aug 9th, 2017 11:23AM EDT
impossible burger
Image: Impossible Foods

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There are few things on this planet that are as satisfying as a nice, thick hamburger. If you’ve sworn off meat, that can be a tough pill to swallow, but last summer a Silicon Valley startup called Impossible Foods brought some good news for vegans who still crave a bloody burger. Their first major product, called the Impossible Burger, is made entirely of plant material, and through some pretty fancy food engineering the faux beef patty even “bleeds” like the real thing. The only problem? The FDA still can’t figure out if humans should even be eating it.

As the New York Times reports, the cinderella story of Impossible Foods — which has amassed over $250 million worth of investment — has gotten a bit more complicated since the rollout of its meatless burger in August of 2016. The company is eagerly awaiting approval from the Food and Drug Administration for one of the burger’s primary ingredients. The substance, called soy leghemoglobin, is found within the roots of the soy plant but is produced in mass quantities by Impossible Foods for use in its fake meat patties, and the FDA has yet to sign off on it.

The company insists its product is completely safe for human consumption, but the regulators are simply not sure. A Freedom of Information request revealed that the agency is worried that the soy substance, which is not typically consumed by humans, could be a harmful allergen. However, because the FDA has also not declared soy leghemoglobin to be unsafe, Impossible Foods is still free to market and sell its meatless burgers to customers and restaurants.

So, if you’ve been avoiding meat but just can’t get over your lust for a nice burger, proceed at your own risk.