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Plant Based Meat Alternatives- Testing considerations

With the rise of plant-based meats in the market, the team at Columbia Labs has compiled key considerations for safety and quality testing:

  • Plant-based ingredients have different levels and forms of macronutrients than their animal counterparts
    • Carbohydrates in milk is lactose, in meat is glycogen and in pea its soy.
    • These different components affect spoilage rates.
    • Test for nutrient compositions and product-specific shelf life.
  • The variety of ingredients making up in plant-based foods can bring different microbial loads.
    • This includes ingredients with high micro loads such as yeast extract and spices.
  • The U.S. recommendations governing best practices for plant-based foods and animal-based meats differ (FDA and USDA, respectively).
  • Environment and processing technologies must be considered for contaminant introduction
    • Ground or formed products (i.e. products with additional handling) will have higher microbial counts than “cut” products.
  • Ingredients are often tested for antimicrobial and ingredient efficacy and product shelf-life in a lab environment. This may not correctly mimic the specific production environment factors that are impacting a plant-based meat alternative’s ability to meet its shelf-life and safety goals.
  • Environmental Monitoring testing is recommended for all food manufacturing processes.

For more information on testing plant-based meat alternatives, micro contaminants and environmental monitoring, please email:

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