22nd May 2023  Author: Phil Smith, Head of Sales for Fapas® Proficiency Testing

Proficiency Testing (PT) for Novel Alternative Protein-based Foods

In this article, Phil Smith, Fapas® Proficiency Testing discusses the role of Proficiency Testing (PT) in ensuring that the quality of analytical testing is fit for purpose, providing confidence in the analysis and therefore the foods themselves. Fapas has for many years provided PT for nutritional testing, food contaminants, and GMOs and many of these tests are also relevant to the use of novel proteins. The range has now been further tailored to this sector with the release of the 2023/24 Fapas program.

Fapas is an independent proficiency testing (PT) provider, (part of Fera Science Ltd.) that provides food testing laboratories with the confidence that their testing is optimized to achieve accurate and reliable results and meet or exceed internal quality standards.

Test method validation on Fapas PTs using ‘real’ food samples, including samples that contain novel or alternative proteins, is performed by food testing laboratories (food and beverage industry, research, contract and regulatory). Fapas PTs provide an independent, statistical, and confidential test of laboratory procedures that allows laboratories to demonstrate their systems performance and competency and help fulfil ISO/IEC 17025 and FDA’s LAAF (Laboratory Accreditation for Analysis of Foods) requirements.

Fapas has expanded its range of PTs to include nutritional analysis of novel protein incorporated plant-based foods, and associated authenticity of vegan food, using PT matrices like fruit, legumes, seeds, herbs, powdered yeast fermented products, seaweed, insect protein, mushroom powder, tree nut and plant-based beverages, and cereal-based foods.

A robust PT program can support 'free-from' status and help safeguard against adulteration or contamination from allergens, food fraud, heavy metals, mycotoxins, pathogens, GMOs, herbicides, pesticides, and other contaminants listed in Table 1.

2307DowloadButton Download Table 1: Examples of Fapas Alternative Protein-based Food Proficiency Tests


Pesticide Residue in Insect Protein (Meal)

Fapas is an effective tool because it assesses the entire process including the operator, the method, test kits and/or instruments, consumables, and/or data interpretation employed in the overall assay.

Fapas PTs test not only the analyte assay performed on foods, ingredients, and beverages with alternative proteins, but also the impact of sample preparation, extraction, recovery, and other critical assay parameters.

Fapas can help to identify performance gaps or bias, and adverse trends in testing protocols, and can aid with reassessing training programs. Accurate analysis is essential to support claims for plant-based foods being GMO free, Glyphosate free, Vegan compliant, and if called for, Allergen free, Nut free, Peanut free, Dairy free or Gluten free and Fapas can help laboratories to demonstrate this.

All Fapas participant labs report their PT results anonymously, which allows participants to see trends in their own testing and allows comparison with the other laboratories in the proficiency test. The final report issued by Fapas shows the results of all the participants by lab number only, ensuring confidentiality. The results reported by each laboratory are compared to the statistically true value (assigned value) and assessed by calculating z-scores.

Almond Milk - Mycotoxins
Mycotoxins in Almond Milk

The principal Fapas PT schemes cover:

  • Food Chemistry (heavy metals, mycotoxins, pesticides, herbicides, chemical pollutants, nutritional composition etc.),
  • Food Microbiology (spoilage organisms, pathogens etc.),
  • Food GMO’s,
  • Drinking Water and
  • Environmental Chemistry and Microbiology.

Foods which utilise novel proteins still require laboratory testing to help ensure the quality and safety of the product for consumers, who by the nature of their choices are likely to be more engaged in this aspect of the foods they consume. For further information on the Fapas PT offering for novel foods with alternative proteins, please visit

Phil Smith is Head of Sales for Fapas® Proficiency Testing at Fera Science Ltd. A qualified microbiologist, he has over 30 years of experience in managing and promoting proficiency testing schemes in the food industry, as well as other sectors. Having worked with 4 different providers he has good knowledge of best practice in the field and has worked with the largest food companies to provide solutions for their global proficiency testing requirements.



Date Published: 22nd May 2023

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