Veggie burger or Beef burger? Let Raman tell you!

You may have heard of vegetarian-friendly foods like cauliflower burgers and the Impossible Burgers for example. Both are created to taste — and even bleed — like a hamburger but have no meat in them. Based on Grubhub statistic – a popular food delivery platform, more and more people seem to be developing tastes for these eco-friendly meats1. But are you missing out on meat flavor or other essential nutrients in real meat by eating a veggie burger? Or are you confident that your plant-based patties don’t contain any meat?

Traditional methods for determining meat quality-related parameters are time-consuming and destructive2. Therefore, Raman spectroscopy is gaining interest as an alternative method for fast, direct, and non-destructive data acquisition in food research. In the past, Raman has been used to distinguish between meats of different animals such as horse, cow, and chicken in food adulteration studies3, but can it be used to monitor the quality and consistency of emerging meat alternatives?

Figure 1. Raman profile of beef and plant-base alternative patties. Solid lines and dashed lines represent three spectra of a raw beef patty and raw plant-based alternative patty, respectively.

Figure 1 shows representative Raman spectra of a raw beef patty (RBP) and raw plant-based alternative patty (RPP) collected using an i-Raman EX – 1064 nm laser instrument with a BAC150B Raman probe holder. The Raman profile of both products changed slightly across the patty surface, indicating heterogeneity of a patty. Both products had Raman bands related to protein and meat products6. Even though the Raman profiles of RBP and RPP are comparable, PCA analysis using BWIQ® – chemometric software from B&W Tek, separated the two samples both before and after cooking (Fig. 2).

Figure 2. PCA plot of Raman spectra collected from raw beef patty (RBP), cooked beef patty (CBP), raw plant-based patty (RPP), cooked plant-based patty (CPP)

Beef or vegetable-based burgers – which one do you prefer? In the end, it’s all about taste! But if you want to know more about the molecular differences and evaluate the meat quality, Raman spectroscopy is highly recommended. A fast and precise measurement can be done with Raman systems such as i-Raman EX from B&W Tek, a Metrohm Group Company.

Want to learn more about Raman with food, check out our past blog post about determine constituents and alterations of food products (Recipes with Raman, Raman spectroscopy and its uses in monitoring olive oil adulteration).

For more information about B&W Tek’s Raman systems, visit

1. Grubhub, 2021
2. Beganović, A., et al., 2019. doi.:10.3390/foods8020049
3. Biasio, M. De., et al., 2015. doi.:10.1117/12.2176321
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