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Plant-Based FAQ

Below are Frequently Asked Questions specific to plant-based products for our Standards program and the Natural Products Expo Application Review Process.

For more details about Expo Exhibitor Registration, please consult the Exhibitor Resources available on our Expo sites:

Plant-Based Considerations

Is plant-based the same as vegan?

On the surface, plant-based and vegan may appear to be the same thing. However, our vegan definition differs from the plant-based definition primarily in the processing and handling of the product and/or its ingredients. 

How is plant-based different from vegan?

Products labeled as vegan indicate that all the ingredients are processed using no animal by-products. For example, sweeteners may not be filtered or processed with bone char, prebiotics and probiotics must be cultured on or with a culture medium free of animal products or by-products, and liquids may not be filtered, de-foamed or clarified with animal products. On the other hand, plant-based products do not have restrictions on where they are processed, for instance, in a facility that also processes animal-derived ingredients or products. Vegan products should not be processed in a facility that also processes animal products to avoid cross-contamination.   

My product contains small amounts of cheese, otherwise, it’s mostly plants. Can I use a plant-based claim?

No, if a product contains dairy-based cheese, it may not make a plant-based claim. You may, however, state what is plant-based in the product. For example, “made with plant-based bacon”. 

My product contains nearly all plants and a small amount of honey. Can I use a plant-based claim?

No. Honey is produced by bees and therefore it is not plant derived. If you would like to use descriptive words about a product containing small amounts of animal-derived ingredients, we suggest using terms like “plant-focused” or “plant-forward” or declaring a percentage of the product that is derived from plants. 

My product is mostly mushrooms and some herbs and spices. Can I use a plant-based claim?

We will not dispute a product claiming plant-based if the product is mostly mushroom and other non-animal-derived ingredients as they fit within our guidelines. We encourage companies to look into certifying their products to avoid risks that could arise with such claims. 

My product is primarily seaweed with some water, salt and spices and is certified plant-based. Will that certification be recognized or allowed?

Yes. As long as the certificate can be verified as current with your brand’s name.  

My product is made with animal-free whey protein. Can I use the plant-based claim?

No, we do not allow products that contain nature-identical animal ingredients to be labeled as plant-based.  

My product contains mostly plants and some other non-plant ingredients. Can I use the plant-based claim?

This will depend upon what type of non-plant ingredients in the product. If the ingredients are synthetically derived, according to our guidelines, the product should not claim to be plant-based. If the ingredients are salt, water and/or other non-synthetically derived ingredients, then according to our guidelines, we would not dispute a plant-based claim. 

What is a statement of source?

A statement of source is from what an ingredient is derived and/or how the ingredient is produced. For example, ascorbic acid can be extracted from a variety of food sources such as oranges (ex. Ascorbic acid (acerola)) or can be synthetic through commercial production (ex. Ascorbic acid (fermentation)). 

Can I claim that my product is 95% plant-based?

If the claim is truthful and not misleading, quantifying the amount of plant-based ingredients is acceptable if you have documentation to substantiate such claim.