A methodology for carbon avoidance through the nutritional replacement of beef by low-carbon Spirulina (blue-green algae) production

Public consultation on the first version from 9. June 2023 - 7. July 2023

Sectoral scope:

  1. Agriculture



Current stage:

Completeness review




Within this methodology, GRAS approved blue-green alga (Spirulina platensis) is proposed as a nutritional alternative to conventional beef meat. While the nutritional value of solar-based spirulina, in terms of nutritional equivalence to beef protein and iron composition is well-established [1], the lack of an active form of vitamin B12 [16] prevents it from being an adequate nutritional substitute to beef. This methodology therefore refers to a cultivated Spirulina that shall meet the requirements of being comparable to beef in all three key nutritional ingredients, in amount and bioavailability: complete essential amino acid (EAAs), bioavailable Iron, as well as unopposed, active vitamin B12. Once the parity between beef meat, in terms of EAAs and Iron is re-established [1], the comparison of beef to spirulina is then made on the basis of unopposed active vitamin B12, as a key nutritional indicator that the cultivated spirulina meets the applicability criteria. This methodology defines the nutritional applicability requirements, the baseline scenario, the means for measuring the carbon avoidance, and how additionality must be proven. The methodology follows a step-by-step approach for selecting the most appropriate baseline scenario - the life cycle emissions associated with cradle-to-gate production of baseline product. The methodology also outlines a step-by-step approach for selecting the most appropriate GHG mitigation calculation. Similarly, the GHG mitigation is then estimated by using the LCA of the baseline scenario and life cycle emissions of the produced algae, using the same cradle-to-gate system boundaries as baseline product. Monitoring will be performed in two places 1) in the testing of the nutritional composition of algae produced, to ensure alignment with the applicability criteria, and 2) the measurement of amount algae biomass produced. The ratio between the algal unopposed active B12 composition to the active B12 composition of the baseline product, will be used as a key nutritional normalization factor, applied in order to calculate the actual amount of Spirulina biomass that is one-to-one nutritional substitute for beef.