Tough sell for Impossible Foods, as plant-based chicken nuggets fall foul of import laws


Impossible Foods’ plant-based chicken nuggets, as shown on the company’s website.

Impossible Foods’ plant-based chicken nuggets, as shown on the company’s website.Credit:Impossible Foods website

Impossible Foods began selling plant-based chicken nuggets in November 2022 and markets the product as containing 65 per cent less saturated fat than nuggets made from chicken. The nuggets were sold through Woolworths until late last week, when the supermarket giant took the initiative to pull the product even though no recall had been issued.

“We’re in contact with the supplier, but we have moved to withdraw the product from sale while we receive more information about the import ban from the relevant authorities,” a Woolworths spokesperson said.

Thomas King, the founder and executive director of alternative proteins think-tank Food Frontier, said the blocked shipment was likely the result of differing food codes between Australia and the US, and did not believe consumers need feel worried.

“These matters are very common, they show up regularly across all food types,” he said. “It’s a sign that Australia’s excellent food regulatory systems are working.”

King also pointed to the water-soluble nature of calcium pantothenate, which our bodies will naturally expel if we consume an excess amount of it.

“This appears to be a technical regulatory breach, rather than a food safety issue. And there is considerable difference between those two things,” he said.


Food Frontier has reached out to Impossible Foods regarding the blocked shipment. State authorities have not issued a recall for Impossible Foods’ plant-based chicken nugget product.

The Food Standards ANZ code can be amended through applications filed to and then approved by the authority.

There are over 300 plant-based meat alternative items sold on Australian supermarket shelves today, representing a significant increase from five years ago. Roughly two-thirds of these are made and produced in Australia as the local plant-based sector develops.

Burger chains like Hungry Jacks, Grill’d and Betty’s Burgers offer plant-based options in a bid to offer consumers more choice.

National science agency CSIRO has put together a national plan to advance Australia’s protein production, including developing the plant-based product sector, amid predictions that the world will have 2 billion more mouths to feed by 2050.

Impossible Foods did not respond to requests for comment before deadline.

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