A non-profit consumer group is pushing for the FDA to push back on retail sales of raw “Impossible” burger products, saying the agency is erring on the side of big business rather than public health.

In a letter to a top official at the Food and Drug Administration, as well as in a consumer call to action, the Center for Food Safety (CFS) launched a campaign against the trademarked Impossible meatless products and the federal government’s handling of its approval. 

“While CFS avidly supports plant-based eating, the lack of transparency in getting the (genetically engineered) GE Impossible Burger in restaurants and retail stores highlights a troubling deregulatory trend which prioritizes corporate profit over public health and safety,” according to a statement from the national organization.

The food safety advocacy group wants the FDA to recall all uncooked Impossible burger in grocery stores around the United States. The grocery stores that are currently selling uncooked Impossible Burgers include Wegmans, Gelson’s, and Fairway Market, according to the CFS.

Roots of the soybean plant are at the root of the CFS argument. The organization contends the corporation Impossible Foods uses DNA extracted from the roots of soy plants to create a substance. The substance leghemoglobin, is what gives Impossible burger its reddish brown color that some say mimics ground beef, the CFS says. 

In August this year, the FDA approved Impossible Foods’ petition to list heme (leghemoglobin) as a color additive very quickly, according to CFS. In September the center filed objections, which, it contends, legally prevent the regulation from going into effect and prohibit any sales of the product until those objections are resolved.

“Without valid FDA approval in place, it is unlawful to sell uncooked Impossible Burgers at retail stores,” said Ryan Talbott, Center for Food Safety staff attorney. “The law is clear that when FDA receives an objection to a proposed color additive, FDA must hold approval of its use while it reviews the objection, in order to ensure that it is safe for human consumption. FDA should issue a recall telling retailers to remove uncooked Impossible Burgers from their shelves immediately.”

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