06/07/2018

Is Air Zealand disregarding regulations for food and passenger safety?

 

Air New Zealand is selling a genetically engineered vegan burger on its Los Angeles to Auckland flights. [1] However, its legality has been questioned as it has escaped food safety regulation. [2]

The GE burger has been developed and tested by Impossible Foods and contains fake GE blood so the “burger sizzles”. The fake blood is derived from yeast Pichia pastoris genetically engineered with a Soy Leghemoglobin Protein (SLH). [3]

Documents accessed by Friend of the Earth under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) state that the “FDA believes that the arguments presented, individually and collectively, do not establish the safety of SLH for consumption, nor do they point to a general recognition of safety.” The FDA also noted that soybean is one of the most common allergenic foods. [4]

“Offering it on an aircraft sidelines the approval framework required of consumer food safety," said Claire Bleakley, President of GE-Free NZ (in food and environment).[5]

As well as doubts over the credibility of sustainability claims made for the burger, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had declined to approve key GE ingredients and warns that warns there may be unexpected allergens.

“It is concerning that Air New Zealand is using its passengers as guinea pigs to trial the burger,” said Claire Bleakley, “The consumer preference for plant based eating is based on ethical and genuine sustainability reasons.”

It is not known if the passengers have even been informed of the unapproved ingredients and potential allergenic effects that might occur or if the crew been properly trained to recognise and deal with an allergic reaction.

“The GE product has failed to meet the regulatory safety standards and the decision to sell it makes Air New Zealand responsible if harm occurs,” said Mrs. Bleakley

“Whilst we applaud the move to vegan diets on Air New Zealand flights, the question needs to be asked as to why Air NZ would put itself in the position of ignoring other delicious innovative plant-based non-GE burgers, fitting the New Zealand Brand?”[6]

References -
[1] https://www.nzherald.co.nz/travel/news/article.cfm?c_id=7&objectid=12082092
[2] Is the vegan ‘Impossible burger’ legal? https://modernfarmer.com/2018/04/vegan-impossible-burger-legal-gras-approval/
[3] http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1091581818766318
[4] https://foe.org/resources/072717_impossible_burger_foia_documents/
[5] https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/08/business/impossible-burger-food-meat.html
[6]http://beansupreme.co.nz/portfolio-items/chickpea-and-cauliflower-marsala-burger/

Contact - Claire Bleakley - 027 348 6731
Jon Muller -

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