Codex Alimentarius

The Codex Alimentarius is a collection of international food standards, guidelines and codes of practice developed by the Codex Alimentarius Commission, a joint commission of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO). The Codex Alimentarius includes standards and guidelines for a wide range of foods, including fermented foods such as tempeh. The Codex for tempeh was adopted in 2015 and amended in 2015 and 2017. It defines and describes tempeh. It aims to ensure that tempeh is safe, of good quality and fit for human consumption.

Definition of tempeh

The Codex defines tempeh as a compact, white, cake-like product produced from dehulled cooked soybeans by solid-state fermentation with Rhizopus spp. Only two ingredients are allowed: soybeans and a tempeh starter. This starter should contain spores of Rhizopus spp. (R. oligosporus, R. oryzae and/or R. stolonifer) mixed with cooked rice powder, rice bran powder and/or wheat bran powder. No additives are allowed except those necessary to control the acidity of the soaking water.

Characteristics of tempeh

Tempeh should have a compact texture that does not crumble when cut with a knife. The colour should be white with abundant growth of mycellium of Rhizopus spp. Tempeh should have a nutty, meaty and mushroom-like flavour. Its smell should be that of fresh tempeh without any ammonia smell.

Analytical characteristics

Moisture: max 65%.
Protein content: min 15%.
Fat content: min 7%.
Fibre content: max 2,5%.

Tempeh must comply with the maximum levels of the General Standard for Contaminants and Toxins in Food and Feed and the Maximum Residue Limits for Pesticides established by the Codex Alimentarius Commission.

Hygiene requirements

Tempeh should be prepared and handled in accordance with the relevant sections of the General Principles of Food Hygiene (CXC 1-1969) and other relevant Codex texts such as Codes of Hygienic Practice and Codes of Practice. It should meet the microbiological criteria established in accordance with the Principles and Guidelines for the Establishment and Application of Microbiological Criteria related to Foods (CXG 21-1997).