1 in 4 meat substitutes ‘do not contain enough protein to be considered a source of protein’

 

By Oliver Morrison, Food Navigator

31-Mar-2021

 

Over a quarter of processed, vegetarian meat-substitute products are not a source of protein, according to research by Safefood into the nutritional content of more than 350 products which claim to be meat replacements.

 

Ireland-based food safety and nutrition organisation Safefood looked at the nutritional content of 354 ready-to-eat and main meal vegetarian, plant-based meat substitutes available in supermarkets on the island of Ireland between 28 April and 26 May 2020.

 

While most were lower in calories, fat and saturated fat, most had lower protein than their meat equivalents and their salt levels were similar or higher. One in 4 did not contain enough protein to be considered a source of protein.

 

The products included meat-free burgers, steaks, mince, meatballs, nuggets, sausages and fish substitutes. Also included were falafels and other bean and pulse-based products, and vegetarian products such as cheese grills and melts.

 

Items contained proteins from a number of ingredient sources including mycoprotein, soy, pea, beans, chickpeas, lentils, peas, mushrooms, tempeh, quinoa and tofu.

 

The products surveyed were highly processed and contained multiple ingredients, including ingredients added for flavour and texture, the report said.

 

EU nutrient labelling rules state that if the percentage of energy that comes from protein is between 12 and 19.9% the product can claim to be a source of protein. If the percentage of energy that comes from protein is 20% or greater the product can claim to be high in protein.

 

The protein content of the products surveyed ranged from 0.9 to 30.6 g per 100g (average 10.7g per 100g). Almost 1 in 4 of the products sampled were a source of protein (where the percentage of energy from protein ranged from 12-19.9%) while 49% (173 products) were high in protein (where the percentage of energy from protein was over 20%). This meant that one quarter (28%) of the products surveyed were not a source of or high in protein. As such, the report told consumers to be aware of this if relying on these foods as a protein source...

 

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https://www.foodnavigator.com/Article/2021/03/31/1-in-4-meat-substitutes-do-not-contain-enough-protein-to-be-considered-a-source-of-protein