Crops News

‘Certified Plant Based’ label enters the shopping market fray


We are all aware that “vegan” and “vegetarian” labels are on foods across many store shelves, but it’s possible if the latest labeling effort takes off, we’ll see a similar one in the mix: Certified Plant Based.

This new label was drawn up by the Plant Based Foods Association — they’re calling it the first and only plant-based food certification, focusing on alternatives to animal-based foods. They say it’s important because the research they’ve commissioned has shown an increase in the plant-based food market

NSF International is the certifying agency, and according to their website, the products eligible for certification include meat-, egg- and dairy-alternative products that do not contain any animal-derived ingredients. The eligible categories include:

  • Tofu and tempeh
  • Meat alternatives to beef, pork, chicken, fish, etc.
  • Milk alternatives such as cheese; yogurt; ice-cream, novelty and frozen desserts; butter; dips, dressings and sour cream; other beverages and creamers
  • Egg substitutes and mayo
  • Additional product categories, as deemed acceptable by the Plant Based Foods Association

Tofurky and Oatly are the first brands to participate in the new program.

Products excluded from this program include:

  • Products that are inherently plant based such as single ingredient vegetables, nuts, etc.
  • Products that contain any amount of animal-derived ingredient(s), including honey or casein
  • Alcohol
  • Tobacco products
  • Dietary supplements
  • Pet food

So what’s been the reaction so far? Truthfully, it’s too early to tell, since there are all of two brands sporting the label, and it hasn’t been around long enough to make a real impact in the marketplace.

One Facebook Group for people with specific food allergies has a thread about the label, and the comments have generally been skeptical or critical:

  • “Just seems like another advertising campaign to get ‘plant based diet’ people.”
  • “But you can have something plant based and still have mammal in it. Needs to be plant based and vegan and even then carrageenan can still slip through.”
  • “Hope the manufacturing people adopt it…”

The second quote raises a significant point that “plant-based” doesn’t necessarily mean “plant-exclusive,” and depending on how the standards are interpreted, we could end up with a situation like the Non-GMO Project’s label, which notoriously allows small percentages of genetically engineered ingredients in its foods despite how the label itself is worded.

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