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Nutritional Composition of Ultra-Processed Plant-Based Foods in the Out-of-Home Setting: A Case-Study with Vegan Burgers †

National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), 3721 MA Bilthoven, The Netherlands
Special Initiative on NCDs and Innovation, WHO Regional Office for Europe, 2100 Copenhagen, Denmark
Food and Nutrition Department, National Institute of Health Doutor Ricardo Jorge (INSA), 1649-016 Lisbon, Portugal
Nutrition, Metabolism and Genomics Group, Division of Human Nutrition and Health, Wageningen University and Research, 6700 HB Wageningen, The Netherlands
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Presented at the 14th European Nutrition Conference FENS 2023, Belgrade, Serbia, 14–17 November 2023.
Proceedings 2023, 91(1), 4;
Published: 13 November 2023
(This article belongs to the Proceedings of The 14th European Nutrition Conference FENS 2023)


Introduction: Ultra-processed plant-based foods, such as plant-based burgers, have gained popularity and are perceived by consumers as a healthier and more environmentally sustainable alternative to animal-based foods. However, evidence regarding their nutritional profile and environmental sustainability is still evolving. Purpose: To contribute to the understanding of the nutrient profile of ultra-processed plant-based foods in the out-of-home environment. Methods: Cities in four WHO European Member States were selected for study in a convenience sample across the regions of Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Lisbon, and London. Plant-based burgers available at selected out-of-home sites were randomly sampled. In total 41 plant-based burgers were lab-analyzed for their energy, macronutrients, amino-acids and minerals content per 100 g and per serving size. Descriptive data were used to summarize the nutritional composition per 100 g and serving size. The content per serving was compared to the appropriate reference values. Results: The median energy content was 234 kcal/100 g (IQR = 50). Median macronutrient composition was 20.8 g/100 g (IQR = 5.7) carbohydrates and 3.5 g/100 g (IQR = 1.8) dietary fibre. Protein content was 8.9 g/100 g (IQR = 3.7) with low protein quality. The median total fat content was 12.0 g/100 g (IQR = 4.2), including 0.08 g (IQR = 0.05) TFA and 2.2 g (IQR = 2.3) SFA. The median sodium content was 389 mg/100 g (IQR = 113), equivalent to 2.7 g salt. When compared with reference values, the median serving of plant-based burgers (280 g) provided 31% of energy intake and contributed 17–28% of carbohydrates, 42% of dietary fibre, 40% of protein, and 48% of total fat including 26% of SFA. The burgers had low-quality protein. One serving provided 15–20% of the reference values for calcium, potassium, and magnesium, while higher contributions were found for zinc (30%), manganese (38%), phosphorus (51%), and iron (67%). Conclusion: Ultra-processed plant-based foods, such as plant-based burgers, provide protein, dietary fibre, and essential minerals. They also contain high levels of energy, sodium, and fatty acids. Despite their potential as a source of protein, the quality of protein in plant-based burgers is low. The multifaceted nutritional profile of plant-based burgers highlights the need for manufacturers to implement improvements to better support healthy dietary habits. These improvements should include reducing salt and fatty acids while also enhancing protein quality.

Author Contributions

Conceptualization: C.M., G.B.G., H.R., R.E.V., E.H.M.T.; Project management: H.R.; Investigation: R.E.V.; Lab-analyses: C.M.; Data analysis: R.E.V.; Writing—original draft: R.E.V.; Writing—review & editing: R.E.V., H.R., G.B.G., E.H.M.T., C.F., C.M., K.W. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.


This research received no external funding.

Institutional Review Board Statement

Not applicable.

Informed Consent Statement

Not applicable.

Data Availability Statement

Data sharing is not applicable to this article.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.
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MDPI and ACS Style

Vellinga, R.E.; Temme, E.H.M.; Rippin, H.; Motta, C.; Gonzales, G.B.; Farrand, C.; Wickramasinghe, K. Nutritional Composition of Ultra-Processed Plant-Based Foods in the Out-of-Home Setting: A Case-Study with Vegan Burgers. Proceedings 2023, 91, 4.

AMA Style

Vellinga RE, Temme EHM, Rippin H, Motta C, Gonzales GB, Farrand C, Wickramasinghe K. Nutritional Composition of Ultra-Processed Plant-Based Foods in the Out-of-Home Setting: A Case-Study with Vegan Burgers. Proceedings. 2023; 91(1):4.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Vellinga, Reina E., Elisabeth H. M. Temme, Holly Rippin, Carla Motta, Gerard Bryan Gonzales, Clare Farrand, and Kremlin Wickramasinghe. 2023. "Nutritional Composition of Ultra-Processed Plant-Based Foods in the Out-of-Home Setting: A Case-Study with Vegan Burgers" Proceedings 91, no. 1: 4.

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