One would think a fake burger containing zero beef would be right up People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ alley. Wrong.
The vegan burger’s manufacturer, Impossible Burgers, tested the safety of its faux meat on 188 rats to convince the Food and Drug Administration that the key, blood-like ingredient qualified as a safe food additive. Arstechnica.com reported the company received a controversial FDA designation called “generally recognized as safe” or GRAS. The rats were disposed of following testing.
PETA claimed in a blog post that the testing was voluntary and that Impossible Foods conducted the test after disregarding the advice from a PETA scientist who said there is no need to hurt and kill animals to test its burger. PETA went a step further – or several steps further – and suggested the faux meat could increase the risk of cancer in consumers.
In a war of the blogs, Impossible Foods fired back with a rebuttal, calling the PETA post “malicious, defamatory, erroneous and mendacious.” Impossible Foods went on to explain that the studies involving the rats were essential to convince the FDA that its key burger ingredient, leghemoglobin, fell into the GRAS category and could be safely marketed and consumed.
Leghemoglobin is an iron-containing protein pulled from soybean roots that is similar to hemoglobin, an oxygen-carrying protein in red blood cells. In the plant-based patty, it helps mimic the red juiciness of beef. It never had been used in foods before, hence the safety testing, said the arstechnica.com report.
PETA continues to have a problem with imparting scientific truth. Not long ago they were called out on claiming scientific studies showed pregnant women who ate chicken would have baby boys with smaller penises. Now, they are claiming eating Impossible Foods faux burgers may cause cancer.
PETA’s blog ‘exposes’ Impossible Foods’ claim to fame – heme in its burgers. “Well, here’s a shocker,” says the blog. “This heme comes from soy leghemoglobin and contains more iron than that found in the heme of a similar serving of red meat. Having too much iron in your blood can mean a greater risk of developing cancer, especially for men and postmenopausal women.”
What PETA doesn’t include in its attempt to scare people away from the faux burgers is that one could not achieve the excessive iron overload even after eating a hundred Impossible Burgers. The National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements states, “Adults with normal intestinal function have very little risk of iron overload from dietary sources of iron.”
Nice try PETA.