This Project provided the first socio-legal analysis of the regulation of meat and dairy alternatives in Australia and one of the first in the world. It investigated and evaluated the regulatory assessment process in Australia for novel meat and dairy analogues using as a case study Australia’s regulatory approval of Impossible burgers and other products produced by Impossible Food Inc (‘Impossible’). Impossible required pre-market regulatory approval to sell its burger and other products because its novel meat analogues contain soy leghemoglobin, which is a novel protein developed by Impossible using precision fermentation methods.
This Project drew on a legal analysis of the regulatory process generally for novel meat and dairy analogues and as it applied to Impossible products combined with a qualitative analysis of the 60 public submissions received as part of the pre-market approval process for Impossible’s products. It found that the current pre-market approval process in Australia is not designed to ensure public interest outcomes beyond preventing acute food safety risks and enabling markets. Yet, the submissions indicated that stakeholders expect regulators to respond to long-term health and sustainability matters when it comes to regulating food. Future developments in the regulation of food in Australia should engage with the broader food systems objectives that are intertwined with meat and dairy alternatives to ensure public trust in novel foods.