Alternative Methods for Alternative Proteins

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While the current explosion in growth of plant-based food products has been a surprise to some, the inevitability of its presence in consumer markets, has not. With rising concerns about the environmental impact of animal farming, animal welfare, and the nutrition of traditional meat and dairy products, plant-based alternatives are becoming a mainstay to grocery stores, restaurants, and retailers. However, the rapid growth and acceptance by consumers has led to a gap in the abilities of regulators and standards groups to monitor and evaluate the efficacy of current analytical techniques. From in-house proximate analysis and nutritional label testing, to adhering to FDA requirements on the level of contaminants and more, everything associated with analyzing alternative protein products still needs to be formally defined. While ISO TC34, the standards committee for food products that guides CODEX and other global testing requirements, has already launched a working group to develop testing requirements for alternative protein products, most manufacturers are being forced to implement “best fit” methods as a way to adapt quickly, regardless if they truly are the best fit or not. With a little due diligence and a keen scientific eye, manufacturers can be certain they are implementing the right techniques now, avoiding major SOP revisions and keeping both consumers and regulators happy. This white paper reviews how analyzing plant-based products can be similar to traditional dairy and meat products, where they differ and what options are available to aid in better testing practices.