Course:FNH200/Projects/2023/Analysis Of Beyond Meat

From UBC Wiki


New lighter packaging consisting of a cardboard tray and film covering.

The increasing awareness of the environmental impact of traditional meat production, concerns about animal welfare, and a rising global population are driving the demand for sustainable and ethical food alternatives. Beyond Meat's dedication to producing plant-based protein products that closely resemble conventional meat has positioned it as a leader in this industry. Numerous companies and eateries, including but not limited to: A&W, Tim Horton's, Tesco (UK), Dunkin' Donuts, Subway, Denny's, Whole Foods, Costco, Save-On Foods, Safeway, Target, Walmart, TGI Fridays, Carl's Jr., Del Taco, ShopRite, and Sprouts, have partnered with Beyond Meat. Additionally, a number of fast-food establishments and eateries, like Chipotle , have chosen not to serve Beyond Meat because it is "too heavily processed."[1]

Beyond Meat Products and Sustainable Packaging

Nutrition facts label mentioning necessary information.

In order to protect against microbial growth, enzyme activity, as well as the chemical reactions that contribute to senescence, Beyond Meat patties are frozen just like their meat-based counterparts. This fundamental step in the packaging process protects against pathogenic and spoilage-causing microorganisms, and also helps to minimize degradation of nutritional value, and aesthetic appeal. The process utilized is likely cryogenic freezing since this is the most effective method for quality preservation due to the rapid freezing rate and formation of very small ice crystals. [2] However, one area of concern comes from Beyond Meat’s packaging: Beyond meat’s packaging mainly consists of a plastic thermoformed tray, a film covering, a cardboard-like sleeve, and waxed patty paper. [3]The tray and the sleeve form more than 94% of the total packaging material by weight. Since 2020, Beyond Meat claims they plan on moving towards lighter packaging in Europe with “30% less material overall by reducing paper and plastic use”. [4] An additional concern is that the packaging is made from single-use plastics and as such is not biodegradable and does not effectively make use of recycling. [5]

The Regulatory Landscape in Canada

The introduction of plant-based protein products into the Canadian market presents unique challenges for regulatory bodies. Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) play a crucial role in overseeing the approval, labeling, and safety of Beyond Meat's products.The Food and Drug Regulations require simulated meat and simulated poultry products to be clearly represented as simulated, be clearly labelled as such, and meet specific requirements for composition and fortification. [6] This is present on all Beyond Meat packaging, alongside statements regarding the protein content of the product, which is also required for simulated meat. [7] Other required information includes the list of quantities of all vitamins and minerals added to the product, as can be seen in the lengthy Nutrition Facts table on the Beyond Burger product.

Testing the texture and mouthfeel

Beyond Meat has worked closely with these agencies to ensure that its products meet the necessary safety and labeling requirements. This regulatory compliance is essential for both consumers and industry stakeholders to make informed choices and contribute to the success of this emerging sector. On a global level, while the Canadian market has strict regulations regarding plant-based meat, in countries such as India debate around nomenclature of plant based meats has not yet gathered momentum. The FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India) had established a task force on 'vegan foods' last year (2020). [8] Reportedly, this task force will be responsible for drafting guidelines and provisions for vegan foods. The FSSAI has not posted any developments relating to the task force, and it is unclear yet how this task force will define 'vegan foods'. [9]

Beyond Meat Processing Techniques

Beet extract used as a colorant in Beyond Meat.

The company uses various processing techniques to extract proteins from plant sources, including peas, rice, and mung beans. The proteins are then combined with fats, fibers, and other natural ingredients to create meat-like textures and flavors [10]. Beyond Meat does a great job of focusing on mimicking the texture of animal meat. The proteins in animal meats are fibrous and three-dimensional, which contributes to firmness and cohesion of the food matrix.  Aside from the texture component of the protein, the company uses coconut oil to simulate the marbled appearance of animal meats. Coconut oil has a fatty profile that melts in your mouth, much like the fats found in meat. There is also beet juice used for the red color. Beets contain a natural pigment called betalains which are stable at room temperature but highly unstable at high temperature. This makes it an ideal colorant for a burger because as you cook it, it will brown as the betalains degrade[11]. Beyond Meat uses a patented production system, which uses heating, cooling and pressurization processes to arrange the plant proteins into a fibrous structure similar to that of animal proteins [12]. Pea protein is a sustainable protein choice, but they should prioritize sustainable legume farming over organic farming [13]. Overall, this unique processing approach has been instrumental in achieving the company's goal of creating plant-based alternatives that appeal to a wide range of consumers.

Environmental and Health Impacts

Sustainability of pea protein compared to beef.

Numerous studies have shown that plant-based proteins, like those offered by Beyond Meat, have a significantly lower carbon footprint compared to traditional meat products [14]. Based on a peer-reviewed Life Cycle Analysis (LCA), Beyond Burger generates 90% less Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHGE), saves 46% of energy, uses 99% less water, and has 93% less land demand than a  0.25lb U.S. beef burger[15]. However, Some analysts say they cannot determine if plant-based foods are more sustainable than meat because the companies are not transparent about their emissions[16].

Beyond meat has significantly less saturated fat than both ground beef and Impossible Burger. That’s the “bad” fat associated with heart disease and inflammation, according to the Centers for Disease Control, so less is more in this case. However, Both Impossible and Beyond Meat are much higher in sodium than ground beef, since they’re effectively pre-seasoned [17].


Plant-based meat alternatives like Beyond Meat have opened up a whole new chapter in the food industry due to its innovative and sustainable nature. Beyond Meat has gained popularity not only in Canada but worldwide. The company's partnerships with numerous establishments highlight its influence on the evolving food market. In Canada, regulatory bodies like Health Canada play a vital role in ensuring the safety and labeling of these products, contributing to consumer confidence. The advanced processing techniques, combining proteins from plant sources with fats and fibers, have enabled Beyond Meat to create products with meat-like textures and flavors. But it's important to remember that just because something is made from plants doesn't automatically mean it's super healthy; Beyond Meat burgers have much higher saturated fat and sodium content than regular ground beef, which are added to make them taste like the original version. Switching to plant-based options like Beyond Meat can also help tackle big problems like climate change and the responsible use of land and water. Beyond Meat's journey exemplifies a significant shift in the food industry, reflecting the growing demand for sustainable and ethical choices.

Final Exam Question

What is the primary reason for freezing Beyond Meat patties during the packaging process?

A) To enhance the flavor of the patties

B) To kill all microorganisms present in the patties

C) To slow down or stop microbial growth and enzymatic activity

D) To remove excess moisture from the patties

The correct answer is C) To slow down or stop microbial growth and enzymatic activity. Freezing is employed to mitigate the growth of pathogenic and spoilage-causing microorganisms, as well as the enzymatic and chemical reactions that lead to quality degradation. This question is crucial for the final exam as it highlights the importance of proper food handling and storage even after freezing, highlighting that not all microorganisms are eradicated by freezing, and some can resume growth upon thawing under favorable conditions. Understanding the role of freezing in preserving food quality helps students comprehend the intricate balance between microbiological safety and maintaining sensory and nutritional attributes in processed foods.


  1. Lamb, Catherine (July 30th, 2019). "In Earnings Call, Beyond Meat Claps Back Against Critiques that It's Too Processed". Check date values in: |date= (help)
  2. "Preservation of Foods by Low Temperature".
  3. Heller, Keoleian, Martin C., Gregory A. (September 14, 2018). "Beyond Meat's Beyond Burger Life Cycle Assessment: A detailed comparison between a plant-based and an animal-based protein source".
  5. Hollow, Michele C. "Plant-Based Meat Has a Packaging Problem".
  6. "Government of Canada launches consultation on guidelines for simulated meat and poultry products". November 3, 2020.
  7. "Simulated meat and simulated poultry products". Labelling requirements for meat and poultry products.
  8. Narayan, Shankar (September 17, 2020). "FSSAI constitutes task force on vegan food".
  9. Law, Ikigai (7 May 2021). "Labelling Of Plant-Based Meats: Regulatory Landscape".
  10. "Beyond Meat: HOW IT'S MADE".
  11. Dhuey,, Elliot. "How Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods Make Their Plant-Based Burgers".CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  12. "Beyond Meat's Manhattan Beach Project Innovation Centre, California, US".
  13. Wolf, Jared (February 6, 2023). "Better brands: Is Beyond Meat Sustainable?".
  14. Springmann, M., Clark, M., Mason-D’Croz, D., Wiebe, K., Bodirsky, B. L., Lassaletta, L., ... & Willett, W. (10 October 2018). "Options for keeping the food system within environmental limits".CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  15. Heller, Keoleian, Martin C., Gregory A. (September 14, 2018). "Beyond Meat's Beyond Burger Life Cycle Assessment: A detailed comparison between a plant-based and an animal-based protein source".
  16. Creswell, Julie (Oct. 15, 2021). "Plant-Based Food Companies Face Critics: Environmental Advocates". Check date values in: |date= (help)
  17. Morford, Katie (April 17, 2023). "Impossible vs. Beyond Meat: Taste, Nutrition, Cost, and More".