USA – The US based The Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA) has unveiled a new initiative, Certified Plant Based that focuses on plant-based alternatives to animal-based foods.

The programme which it claims to be the first and only plant-based food certification specifies the criteria required to make a certified plant-based food claim and has NSF International as the certifying agency.

According to PBFA, the foods eligible for certification include meat alternatives such as plant-based meat, poultry, and fish; egg substitutes; milk alternatives; and other dairy alternatives such as plant-based cheese, yogurt, butter and ice cream.

“The launch of the Certified Plant Based seal is an exciting next step for the fast-growing and innovative plant-based foods industry,” said Michele Simon, PBFA’s executive director.

“As consumers are looking to purchase more plant-based options, this new seal ensures confidence in what plant-based means.”

PBFA-commissioned data from Nielsen released earlier this year showed that plant-based food sales grew by 20% from the previous year, outpacing every other food sector by 10 times.

With the rise of innovative plant-based foods such as plant-based yogurt, cheese and meats, 39% of Americans are trying to eat more plant-based foods, according to a 2017 Nielsen Homescan survey.

“Plant-based food sales are growing rapidly,” said Steve Taormina, manager for NSF International’s Consumer Values Verified Program.

“The best way for consumers to navigate the marketplace and make confident purchasing decisions is to look for independent certification of the plant-based claim.”

The first certified food and beverages include Tofurky’s Italian Sausage and Oatly’s Original, Barista, Mocha Barista, Chocolate and Low Fat varieties.

“Tofurky is a proud early adopter of the new Certified Plant Based seal. In partnership with the PBFA, we’re setting an expectation for a recognizable category trust-mark,” said Tofurky CEO Jaime Athos.

“This mark will provide consumers with confidence in purchasing 100% plant based foods, for health and sustainability.”