Overview of cheese analogues in the Egyptian market

Egypt does not have a general regulation on dairy analogues, however, there are only two regulations related to dairy analogues, one is for Mozzarella analogue and the other one is for dried ice cream analogue:

• ES 8445:2021 “Analog Mozzarella”
• ES 8446:2021 “Analog dried ice cream”

For example, mozzarella analogue is defined as follows:
It is unripened cheese, obtained after partly or completely skimmed milk has been cured and replaced with vegetable oils and/or fats with a mixture of one of the dried and pasteurized milk derivatives or treated with any heat treatments equivalent to pasteurization. It is a smooth elastic cheese with a long stranded parallel-orientated fibrous protein structure without evidence of curd granules. The cheese is rindless and may be formed into various shapes.

Difference between dairy products and dairy analogues:

Dairy products

  • Dairy product is defined as milk and any of the foods made from milk. Dairy products only contain milk fat and do not contain any vegetable fat/oil.

Dairy analogues

  • Dairy analogues are substitutes of dairy products that are made to imitate the taste and the look of a real dairy product. Such substitutes replace the dairy milk by other plant-based ingredients. The fat in the milk is replaced by other kinds of fat of animal or plant origin. Sometimes the proteins found in milk are also replaced by proteins from other sources.

Conclusion: Analogues are legal products but the primary difference between dairy products and analogues is the making process. The analogues substitute one or more major components. For example, dairy fat could be replaced with vegetable oil

Cheese definition

  • The meaning of CHEESE is a food consisting of the coagulated, compressed, and usually ripened curd of milk separated from the whey.

Cheese analogues definition

  • Unlike the usual cheeses, cheese analogues are partially or 100% made from vegetable proteins, fats and oils replacing milk protein and milk fat. Cheese analogue or imitation cheese with its other name, mozzarella cheese analogue (MCA) is defined as products made milk, dairy fat and other ingredients namely protein in the presence of emulsifying salts by the use of particularly vegetable-originated different non-milk constituents under the influence of thermal and mechanical energy. 
    Cheese analogue production is also, such as the production of other cheeses, heating, mechanical processing, cutting and emulsifying with salts. They are being preferred due to their cost-effectiveness and the simplicity of their manufacture. Due to textural and functional properties (easily meltable, cuttable, stretching etc.) cheese analogues are preferred especially in pizza products.

Are Cheese Analogues bad for your health?

The answers is No. Benefits of dairy analogues: High fat, protein and minerals content, low lactose, long shelf life, ease of transportation. During storage, they exhibit high functional stability. Moreover, changes in cheese analogue formulation can be made to substitute certain ingredients to fulfil dietary requirements, such as lactose-free, low calorie, low in cholesterol and even vitamin and mineral-enriched.

Both dairy-based cheese and cheese analogue are similar in their nutrient profile, organoleptic attributes and their physical appearance. Nowadays, consumers have become completely conscious of the need for better nutrition. Hence, cheese analogues may offer an excellent opportunity to replace a conventional product with a new one that offers the same or better nutritional and texture characteristics.

As per our experience, the term “analogue” was not commonly used in Egypt for dairy analogues products, until the regulation on Mozzarella analogue came into force. As for other dairy analogues, there are no applicable Egyptian regulations, and such products were labeled as “food preparation from milk & vegetable fats” depending on the case and the product’s nature. It was not permitted earlier by the Egyptian Food Safety Authority (NFSA) to use the term “cheese” even for analogues.

Also, the above Egyptian regulations on analogues are not obligatory according to the Egyptian Organization for Standards & quality (EOS).

It seems that people in Egypt are not familiar with the term analogue written in arabic”أنالوج” and it would be clearer to the consumer to label it as “شبيه”, however, from the regulation, you can see that the term “أنالوج” is also permitted. The Egyptian regulation may need to be changed to only include the correct term for “analogue” in Arabic which is “شبيه”.

Research and Expert Opinion by:

Rasha Alodeh ( Sr. Accounts Manager )

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