Defra, publishes Report on Emerging Protein Sources for Food Authenticity and Labelling


Defra, publishes Report on Emerging Protein Sources for Food Authenticity and Labelling

Defra, publishes Report on Emerging Protein Sources for Food Authenticity and Labelling

Fera Science Ltd., (Fera), a leading scientific research organisation, is pleased to welcome  the release of a report commissioned by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) titled "Implications of emerging novel protein sources for food authenticity and labelling". This comprehensive report delves into the critical issues surrounding the emergence of alternative protein sources and their implications for food authenticity and labelling.

With the world's population projected to reach a staggering 9.7 billion by 2050, ensuring access to safe, nutritious food while protecting natural resources poses a formidable challenge. One potential solution to this challenge lies in the exploration of alternative protein sources. Interest in these novel protein sources has been steadily rising, fuelled by perceived benefits related to animal welfare, health, and sustainability.

The report's executive summary sets out the context of this research:

  • Perceived Benefits: Alternative proteins are gaining popularity due to their perceived advantages, including improved animal welfare, health benefits, and reduced environmental impact.
  • Technological Advances: Rapid technological advancements are accelerating innovation in the alternative protein sector, resulting in a plethora of new products.
  • Regulatory Frameworks: Governments worldwide are revising their regulatory frameworks to accommodate these innovative products while safeguarding industry and consumer interests.
  • Emerging Risks: With the introduction of novel ingredients and products, as well as the increasing complexity of the food supply chain, new risks are emerging that must be addressed.

The Defra-commissioned project under the Food Authenticity Programme focuses on assessing the authenticity and labelling of alternative protein products, their compatibility with current regulatory frameworks, and the capabilities of existing testing methods to authenticate and detect fraud risks in this sector.

The report categorises alternative proteins into four groups:

  1. Plant-Based Proteins: This category encompasses proteins derived from vegetables, legumes, and algae.
  2. Cellular Agriculture: Includes cultivated meat, seafood, and cell-based milk.
  3. Fermentation: This category is further divided into biomass fermentation (where cultivated microorganisms form the product, such as Quorn mycoprotein) and precision fermentation (where yeast, algae, or bacteria are genetically modified to express animal proteins).
  4. Insect-Based Proteins: Insects for both food and animal feed.

The research draws on findings from an international conference on alternative proteins, academic and grey literature, and expert consultations to provide a comprehensive overview of the sector.

The report sheds light on the innovative developments in the alternative protein industry, identifies potential risks, and emphasises the importance of regulatory frameworks and authenticity testing in ensuring consumer confidence and safety.

Fera remains committed to advancing scientific knowledge and supporting informed decision-making in the field of food authenticity and labelling. The release of this report marks a significant step towards addressing the challenges and opportunities presented by emerging novel protein sources in our global food system.

For more information about Fera’s expertise in novel food and alternative proteins and to see the report, please visit or get in touch with Joe Humphreys.


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