The Safety of Plant-Based Proteins As Alternatives for Meat and Dairy Replacers

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentationProfessional


Introduction: Meat and dairy products are traditionally considered important protein sources for human consumption. Consumer trends and circular agriculture have increased the demand for alternative protein sources, including plant-based proteins. Alongside the beneficial effects of a protein transition, it can also result in the emergence of food safety hazards.
Purpose: To identify chemical and microbiological food safety hazards of plant-based proteins using literature review and expert interviews. Given their increasing use in the EU, the focus was on cereals, legumes, seeds, nuts, potatoes, mushrooms, and green leaves.
Methods: Data on the effects of plant-based protein processing and food safety were collected through literature and expert interviews (n=15). Literature was from scientific publications and reports from organizations like the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). The interviews were conducted with researchers to deduce trends, processing techniques, the safety of alternative proteins, among others.
Results: Typical food safety hazards related to the plant or product itself or processing are relevant to monitor in meat and dairy replacers. For example, mycotoxins, plant toxins and bioactive compounds may be present in the ingredients, while spore-forming bacteria, Listeria spp., and Salmonella spp. might be a risk after processing into plant-based proteins. In addition, given the intended increase in protein alternatives in consumers’ diets, the risk of allergens is apparent; however, there are knowledge gaps on allergens in proteins as well as the effects of processing on food safety hazards.
Significance: Since current trends show that plant-based proteins are increasing globally, evaluating the hazards related to these proteins should take precedence in EU monitoring programs. Our findings can aid industry and governmental authorities in understanding current trends and prioritizing hazards for future monitoring.
Period4 May 20226 May 2022
Event titleIAFP European Symposium on Food Safety
Event typeConference
LocationGermanyShow on map