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Vegan and Vegetarian Foods: Plant-based alternatives

Feb 2, 2022

The popularity of plant-based products has been growing recently. Meat and milk plant-based alternatives are sought after by consumers suffering from allergies or intolerances but also those looking for an alternative way, vegetarians and vegans.

The European Commission is currently discussing the adoption of rules for the use of "vegetarian” and "vegan" food labels.

Until the adoption of the relevant legislation, labelling foodstuffs as suitable for vegans and vegetarians is considered as voluntary. According to Article 36 (2) of Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011, on the provision of information to consumers, the following general rules apply to labels:

  • They must not mislead the consumer (Article 7).
  • They must not be ambiguous and confusing.
  • They must be based on relevant scientific data.

The most popular alternatives are plant-based milk and plant-based meat. The Regulation No. 1308/2013 (EU) on establishing a common organisation of the markets in agricultural products defines “milk” and “milk products” as products obtained exclusively from milk. Names such as whey, cream, butter, buttermilk, cheese, yoghurt or cream are also reserved for dairy products only.

Cereal or nut-based drinks cannot therefore be described as 'milk', nor can a name resembling the word 'milk' be used. There is a great number of these products on the market, such as soy, almond, coconut, rice, oatmeal or drinks with hazelnuts or cashews.
As these types of products are not legally defined, the nutritional parameters and ingredients are left to the discretion of the producer. With drinking water as the main ingredient, the products are usually sweetened (some contain naturally occurring sugars). Some beverages (but not all!) contain additives (thickeners, acidity regulators, stabilizers, emulsifiers). The safety of these substances has been proven and they are permitted for the given product category by Regulation (EC) No. 1333/2008 on food additives. They are also often fortified with vitamins and minerals.

The supervisory authorities treat meat products in a similar way. The use of the terms "burger" or "sausage" is permitted as these terms are not defined by law and there are no requirements for meat content, pure protein or fat content.

ALS laboratories offer accurate and reliable determination of nutritional parameters and contaminants in food, feed, and agricultural raw materials:

  • Nutritional parameters including micronutrients (vitamins and minerals).
  • Determination of preservatives, additives, and stabilizers.
  • Allergens in both food products and swabs.
  • Microbiological parameters and heavy metals Pb, Hg, Cd and As.
  • Tailor-made pesticide screening packages.

For more information, please contact us by tel.: +420 226 226 998 or e-mail: