Vegan Certification & Plant Based Product Testing

Mérieux NutriSciences South Africa supports food and drink manufacturers through a range of vegan product testing and consulting services to minimise cross-contamination and ensure plant based eatable goods are done safely. We provide certification tests to help you obtain the vegan logo and validate animal ingredient absence claims.

Vegan or Plant based foods can be defined as: “Food products produced with plant based/vegan products, ingredients and no animal products used in the production. No animal products present in the final product either.”

Currently, the main categories of plant based alternatives for animals products are:

  • Dairy substitute
  • Meat substitute
  • Other plant based products (plant based eggs, plant based ingredients, plant based seafood...)

Plant based meat analogue products are increasingly found in the South African market, and suppliers/producers may have questions with regards to what the products can be called (i.e. labelled), the claims they can make and what kind of testing should be done on these products.

Plant based alternatives to dairy and meat, are mainly based on soy, almond, rice, wheat, oat, cocoa and other non-animal products. Plant based food products include drinks, alternatives to yoghurt, desserts, creams, ice creams, cheese and spreads, as well as tofu, tempeh, seitan and alternatives to meat products such as plant based burgers or ready-meals.

In terms of naming products, Regulation R.146/2010 provides guidance on the types of claims that can be made for vegan markets. Products that are plant based may or may not have other ingredients in them. In the event that products are purely plant based (no animal-derived ingredients), they can make Vegan/Vegetarian claims.

Some of the main challenges for plant based alternatives in terms of food safety and quality are:

  • Endospore-forming bacteria from raw materials (plants and seeds) that survive heating and may produce toxins.
  • Allergenic proteins (from plant based ingredients, especially insect proteins)
  • Pathogenic bacteria (from insect proteins)
  • Mycotoxins
  • Parasites (from insect proteins)
  • PAH, Nitrosamines and heterocyclic aromatic amines may also occur in plant based alternatives
  • Heavy metals, pesticides, hexane (in soy isolates)
  • Antinutrients. Legume seeds contain protein inhibitors of enzymes, phytic acids
  • Off-Flavors produced during the processing of plant materials (grassy, beany flavours from soybeans, bitter and astringent flavours from saponins and isoflavones. It’s necessary to formulate to mask or reduce the potency of these off-flavours.
  • Formulation, reformulation, shelf-life studies and process validation will be necessary to conduct to assure the expiration dates and safety of new plant based product services.
  • Meat alternatives products have near-neutral pH and high protein and moisture content, making them susceptible to microbial growth. Extrusion treatment is a critical control point that promotes the safety and shelf-life of the product.

A vegan diet excludes animal-based foods such as meat, including fish, as well as animal-derived products such as dairy and eggs. In the case of vegan products, it will be necessary to perform species identification.

Risk assessments will need to be done at facilities that wish to claim the production of fully vegan products. One of the considerations is the potential for cross-contamination of plant based products with animal products or materials. Currently, there is no clear ruling for the potential of cross-contamination in the regulations. But this may raise ethical concerns as some people choosing to go Vegan are doing so based on their environmental and social concerns as well as the overall health benefits.

Based on this, testing programs similar to those used for allergen cross-contamination may need to be established in facilities where the risk of cross-contamination is identified.

Discover our vegan product testing services and how we can help you to meet the safety and quality requirements in South Africa:

We provide comprehensive support to the entire supply chain of vegan/plant based food.


  • Labelling & Regulatory
  • Claims and Labelling Review
  • Sensory Evaluation
  • Shelf-life Studies


  • Risk Assessment [vegan vs non-vegan]
  • Implementation Support (meeting the BeVeg requirements or other requirements)
  • Training
  • Labelling training
  • Hygiene
  • Allergen Management
  • Food Safety Culture


  • Microbiological Analysis performed according to the R692 Regulations governing microbiological standards for foodstuffs and related matters


  • Chemical Analysis
  • DALRRD Product Specific Regulations
  • Pesticides according to the Department of Health Regulations
  • Codex Standard for Vegetable Products
  • Nutritional Analysis as per R146:2010 profiles
  • Allergen Analysis
  • Amino Acids
  • Meat Species Identification
  • Vertebra DNA [mammals, birds, fish, etc.]
  • Pesticides
  • Contaminants


  • In collaboration with BeVeg Vegan Certification offered

Mérieux NutriSciences South Africa has adopted the BeVeg Vegan logo Certification Program.

By providing a broad range of test and consulting services to the food and related industries, Mérieux NutriSciences strives to protect consumers' health worldwide.

Mérieux NutriSciences South Africa has enrolled in the accredited BeVeg Vegan Certification Scheme and has been approved as a certification body for vegan certifications in South Africa by BeVeg International.

BeVeg is the only vegan certification program and the first vegan body to be accredited under ISO 17065. The BeVeg vegan logo is internationally recognized and represents a global conformity assessment program.

As a result of the need to define a standard for vegan food, BeVeg vegan certification was created in order to give consumers the confidence to buy and consume products bearing the BeVeg seal of approval without concern.

The BeVeg standards demand research, auditing, verification, and animal DNA laboratory analysis (where applicable), as well as global supply chain accountability that meets the set vegan standards. Mérieux NutriSciences' commitment to - BETTER FOOD. BETTER HEALTH. BETTER WORLD. - aligns perfectly BeVeg's priority to protect consumers.


Contact Us

Contact us for a quote or to find out more about our Food Safety & Quality services.