Photo of food on pink marble against an old pink background. Natural and processed foods side by side. Fruits, vegetables and vegan sausages are decoratively arranged, next to it is a blue kitchen towel.



—— “Vegan doesn’t automatically mean natural.”

Vegan food is booming—and we at TÜV SÜD are increasingly dealing with foodstuffs that don’t contain any animal ingredients. But no matter if it’s animal-based, vegetarian or vegan: food should be safe. Customers must be able to depend on the fact that it’s been produced in clean facilities and that the information in the list of ingredients is correct. That’s my area of expertise and why I travel throughout southern Germany for my work.

Almost all manufacturers produce according to the International Food Standard these days. I carry out on-site inspections to ensure adherence. These audits are sometimes announced in advance, but more and more frequently occur without warning. We check whether the machines are clean, take production samples, inspect the warehouse and ensure that the ingredient listing required by law is correct. For this, the manufacturer is required to let us in on the company’s secrets and disclose the recipes. We also check origin information and labels such as “additive-free”—or “vegan.” During inspections for vegan foodstuffs, it must be ensured that no animal-based ingredients are used throughout the entire manufacturing process.

Photo of individual seeds of different legumes on a rose-colored background.
Photo of Dr. Andreas Daxenberger. A person wearing glasses, looks into the camera ans smiles.
HIGH LEVEL Dr. Andreas Daxenberger is a certified food chemist and food safety auditor at TÜV SÜD. He advocates cooking with fresh food whenever possible.

However, it should be clear to everyone: vegan doesn’t automatically mean natural. Of course there are many natural ve­gan foods, for instance a fresh salad or a lentil curry you’ve made yourself at home. But the overall trend is moving toward highly processed foods. Although social media is full of food photos, fewer and fewer people are actually cooking fresh meals from scratch. And almost every ready-made product is complicated to produce and probably contains numerous additives. In fact, any vegan product attempting to imitate meat or fish requires a highly complex production process.

I’m often asked what I still eat. The answer: because I know what the products contain, I eat almost everything. The standards at these food companies are very high, and the work is generally very reliable and they work in clean facilities. But I always look first at the list of ingredients, and I try to cook for myself, with fresh products, whenever I have the time.