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Impossible Foods
Image credit: Impossible Foods

Brief: Impossible Foods could sell proprietary heme to other companies – CEO Brown

June 25, 2021

  • Impossible Foods is open to selling or licensing its proprietary ‘heme’ ingredient to other food companies in the future, founder and CEO Patrick Brown has said at an online event.
  • “We have absolutely no aversion to doing that […] We just haven’t had the bandwidth to really think about those alternative business models,” he is quoted as saying by FoodNavigator. “[But] I am more than willing to do anything that will actually accelerate the availability and competitiveness of plant-based foods across the board, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we go in that direction in a couple of years.”

Why it matters:

Impossible Foods claims that its synthesized soy leghemoglobin, or ‘heme’ — which it produces via fermentation using extracts from soybean roots — is the secret sauce that differentiates its faux-beef products from those offered by competitors.

The San Francisco-based company says that the compound plays a key role in the umami flavor profile of its meat substitute products, in addition to providing its Impossible Burger with the characteristic ability to ‘bleed’ like rare-cooked beef.

An advocacy group, the Center for Food Safety, filed suit in a US federal court earlier this year, challenging the Food & Drug Administration’s (FDA) 2019 approval of Impossible’s soy leghemoglobin for human consumption. The court upheld the FDA’s approval in a non-precedential decision issued last month.

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