Analogue Cheese

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Changed on: 21.11.2016

What is analogue cheese?

Cheese analogues or cheese imitates are cheese-like products that are not made of milk or milk products. At least one milk constituent, e.g. milk fat, is replaced by another constituent, such as plant fat/oil, in such products. In order to imitate the properties of real cheese, starch, salts, emulsifiers, flavourings and colorants, flavour enhancers, water and/or plant protein are added to the product. Sometimes, these products are also combined with traditional cheese. Cheese imitates are cheaper to produce. They can be produced much faster and without the food-technology knowledge required to make high-quality, mature cheese because they are not subject to a maturing process.

Which products contain cheese analogues?

Which products contain cheese analogues?

Cheese analogues are used instead of grating cheese predominantly to bake because such products do not burn as easily as real cheese. Additionally, cheese replacement products have gained in significance for vegans.

Legal Assessment

Legal Assessment

It is prohibited to label products as “cheese” or use the name affix “cheese” under EU law if a natural milk constituent is replaced by a constituent not occurring naturally in milk, as is normal for cheese analogues.

Regulation (EC) No 1308/2013 Annex VII Part III provides:
For the purposes of this part, "milk products" means products derived exclusively from milk, on the understanding that substances necessary for their manufacture may be added, provided that those substances are not used for the purpose of replacing, in whole or in part, any milk constituent.. […]

The following terms shall be reserved exclusively for milk products: […] i) whey; ii) cream; iii) butter; iv) buttermilk; v) butteroil; vi) caseins; vii) anhydrous milk fat (AMF); viii) cheese; ix) yogurt; x) kefir; xii) koumiss; xiii) viili/fil; xiii) Smetana; xiv) fil; xv) rjaženka; xvi) rūgušpiens

As a result, terms such as “analogue cheese”, “fake cheese” or “cheese imitate” are not allowed. Only fantasy names, such as “Pizza Mix” or “Gastromix” are allowed in combination with a descriptive name which makes it clear what kind of food product it is and what it is not.

How can I identify cheese analogues as a consumer?

How can I identify cheese analogues as a consumer?

In regards to unpackaged, ready-made foods with several ingredients, such as a pizza, it is very difficult or even impossible for the consumer to find out whether real cheese or a cheese substitute was used. For packaged and labelled foods, the list of ingredients provides information. Cheese or a type of cheese, such as “Emmental” or “Gouda” may only be listed as an ingredient, if real cheese has been used. Cheese replacements are prohibited to use the term “cheese” or the name of a type of cheese. Thus, labels often carry descriptive terms, such as “Lebensmittelzubereitung zum Überbacken“ (food preparation for gratins or bakes), “Streufertiger Backbelag für Pizza” (ready-to-sprinkle pizza topping), “Bäckermischung” (baker’s mixture) etc.; in addition, the constituents such as vegetable fats, starch etc. must also be listed on the label.

Are cheese analogues a health risk?

Are cheese analogues a health risk?

No, these products do not pose a health risk to humans.

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