A federal appeals court upheld a Food and Drug Administration ruling to allow a plant-based food company to use a genetically engineered additive to redden its imitation beef products.
The three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Monday that the Food and Drug Administration “performed the appropriate analysis” in allowing Impossible Foods to use soy leghemoglobin as a color additive in its beef analog products.
The 2-1 ruling followed a lawsuit against the FDA, filed on March 18, 2020, by the food advocacy group Center for Food Safety, arguing that the agency employed a lower safety standard than required by law when it approved soy leghemoglobin, or “heme,” to be used in raw Impossible burger products sold in grocery stores.
“It is clear from reading the FDA’s decision as a whole that the FDA performed the appropriate analysis,” Judges Susan Graber and Consuelo Callahan wrote in their decision. “Substantial evidence supports the FDA’s decision to approve soy leghemoglobin as a color additive.”
Impossible Foods, which launched its first product in 2016, is a plant-based food manufacturer with a mission to “reduce the impact of climate change by transforming the global food system,” according to its website. The company currently manufactures imitation burger, sausage, and pork products and says it has plans to make and sell fish and dairy imitation products as well.
“Today’s ruling cements FDA’s food additive approval, allowing Impossible Foods and other plant-based meat companies to use [genetically engineered] heme for no other purposes other than make their burgers more marketable,” the Center for Food Safety said in a news release responding to the Monday ruling. “Despite avidly supporting plant-based diets, CFS urges consumers to avoid eating these GMO plant-based burgers.”
“FDA is supposed to protect consumers from unsafe novel chemicals in our food supply, instead now consumers bear the burden of avoiding these GMO plant-based burgers,” Center for Food Safety senior attorney Sylvia Wu was also quoted as saying in the release.
The FDA’s final rule allowing the use of soy leghemoglobin in Impossible Foods’s grocery beef products was supposed to go into effect on Sept. 3, 2019, but the agency stayed its effective date until December of that year due to safety objections from the Center for Food Safety.
“The FDA is affirming that the use of soy leghemoglobin as a color additive in ground beef analogue products such that the amount of soy leghemoglobin protein does not exceed 0.8 percent by weight of the uncooked ground beef analogue product is safe,” the regulatory agency said in a Dec. 17, 2019, “FDA in Brief” news release.
Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain dissented, arguing that the Center for Food Safety lacked standing to sue the FDA.
- ^ 9th Circuit Court of Appeals (www.washingtonexaminer.com)
- ^ Food and Drug Administration (www.washingtonexaminer.com)
- ^ burger products (www.washingtonexaminer.com)
- ^ MCDONALD’S SET TO ROLL OUT ‘MCPLANT’ AFTER BROKERING DEAL WITH FAKE MEAT DISTRIBUTOR (www.washingtonexaminer.com)
- ^ Judges (www.washingtonexaminer.com)
- ^ wrote (ecf.ca9.uscourts.gov)
- ^ according to its website. (impossiblefoods.com)
- ^ said (www.centerforfoodsafety.org)
- ^ said (www.fda.gov)
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