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Heme, the essential nutrient youve never heard of
Heme, the essential nutrient you've never heard of
Melia Robinson/Business Insider
Although the scientists at Impossible Foods had already done extensive testing on heme, they did not get the official nod from the FDA until Monday.
"We are the farthest thing from surprised," Pat Brown, Impossible Foods' CEO, told Business Insider.
Although today's veggie burgers can be described with a handful of delicious-sounding adjectives, "meaty" wasn't really one of them until Impossible Foods came along. The meat-like flavor in the Impossible Burger can largely be attributed to heme, an essential nutrient in many proteins that is found in just about every living thing on Earth.
In our bodies, heme is found tucked inside of a molecule in our blood called hemoglobin. Heme is also found in smaller concentrations in some plants including soy, which is where the Impossible Burger's heme is from. By genetically modifying yeast, Impossible Foods turns the organisms into tiny heme factories that churn out enough of the ingredient to give the burgers their meaty flavor.
Brown said the FDA's green light underlines what he and the rest of the Impossible Foods team already knew — that heme and the Impossible Burger are safe to eat.
"We would have been kicking ourself in the foot if we hadn't already done the research and proven that this was safe," Brown said.
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