Seaweed standardization, what’s it all about?

As part of its support for the algae industry, the European Commission has initiated a request for standardisation in support of the implementation of Directive 2009/28/EC (promoting the use of energy from renewable sources) and the Communication on “Innovation for sustainable growth: a bioeconomy for Europe”.

Standardisation work has been identified as playing an important role in promoting the use of algae and algae-based products in Europe. The organisation of this work has been entrusted to the Netherlands via their standards association NEN, with the creation of CEN/TC 454 “Seaweed and seaweed-based products”.
An AFNOR/V39A mirror committee has been set up in France, enabling French representatives to contribute to the establishment of these standards.

The aim of the standardisation work is to improve the reliability of the supply chain and therefore the confidence of the sector and consumers in algae, in order to promote and support their marketing at European level. By their very nature, standards are voluntary and serve as a basis for relations between economic, scientific, technical and social partners.

And today, what standards have been published?

The first standard resulting from this work, published in May 2020 (NF EN 17399 for its French version) is a terminology standard and consists of defining terms related to the functionalities, products and properties of algae. These definitions serve as a common language for the development of other standards relating to algae. This standard is currently being revised to increase the number of definitions as standards projects develop.
It should be noted that within the commission, algae are considered to be a functional group of varied organisms, made up of microalgae, macroalgae, cyanobacteria and Labyrinthulomycetes.

Since then, other standards have been published on seaweed identification methods (NF EN 17477), productivity calculations for seaweed cultivation facilities (NF EN 17480) and sample processing (NF EN 17605). Technical reports have also been published on seaweed specifications for the food and feed (CEN/TR 17559), cosmetics (CEN/TR 17611), pharmaceutical (CEN/TR 17612) and chemical and bioenergy (CEN/TR 17739) sectors.

Projects are currently being finalised, with a lipid analysis method due to be published in 2024, followed by the chlorophyll a analysis method. The public enquiry has just started and you can all contribute by giving your opinion on this project.

The work will continue in 2024, focusing on methods for analysing carotenoids, proteins, amino acids, fatty acids, polysaccharides, a pigment, phycocyanin, and a contaminant, inorganic arsenic.

Nutrients are important compounds in algae. They can be used in commercial transactions. The idea is to have standardised methods that will bring producers up to standard, guarantee the quality of the seaweed and even enhance the value of European seaweed compared with imported seaweed, and reassure buyers and consumers.

Work is also underway on assessing the biobased carbon content of algae for energy and non-energy applications. It also covers inventory methodologies (carbon, energy, water, inputs, etc.) for analysing the life cycle of their production.

Participate in the development and implementation of these standards

Standards are documents drawn up by consensus within a standards body by soliciting representatives of all interested parties. Their adoption is preceded by a public enquiry.
You can therefore take action and defend your positions by joining the French Standards Committee, or at least follow the projects under public enquiry (

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