Impossible Foods ‘magic ingredient’ approved by FDA

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved one of an Impossible Foods key ingredient — soy leghemoglobin — as a color additive on Wednesday.

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Soy leghemoglobin is made up of a molecule that contains iron called “heme.” That molecule is what makes Impossible Foods’ plant-based alternative taste like actual meat, according to a press release published on Wednesday.

Impossible Foods’ scientists consider heme the “magic ingredient,” the release said.

The FDA had already agreed that the substance is safe to eat, but required the company to go through a second process to ensure its safety as a color additive.

“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 Chief Legal Officer Dana Wagner said in the release.

“We have deep respect for the FDA as champion of US food safety, and we’ve always gone above and beyond to comply with every food-safety regulation and to provide maximum transparency about our ingredients so that our customers can have 100 percent confidence in our product,” Wagner added.

The announcement comes around the same time that the company announced it will be partnering with meat supplier OSI Group in an effort to expand production and keep up with the demand of the meatless craze.

“We did a pretty exhaustive search around who would be the best partners to help us scale as well as bring expertise so that we can continue to deliver this delicious burger to consumers," Impossible Foods' Sheetal Shah said during an interview with FOX Business’ Stuart Varney on Wednesday.

The Redwood City, Calif.-based startup has struggled to meet the demand of the plant-based meat. Impossible sells its product to more than 400 distributors and redistributors, which then sells the product to restaurants such as Burger King and White Castle.

Sheetal said the plant-based protein-maker is now in 10,000 restaurants and expects to expand to 17,000 by the end of the year.

“We are going to be able to significantly ramp up production,” Sheetal said about partnering up with the OSI Group.

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Impossible Foods said it has doubled its capacity at its Oakland, Calif. facility to meet the ongoing consumer demand and it expects next month to produce at scale with the new partnership.

FOX Business’ Henry Fernandez and The Associated Press contributed to this report.