Third-party certifications serve as both a marketing tool for brands and a means of gaining consumer trust.
To meet this need for the growing keto category, the Paleo Foundation developed the Keto Certified program in 2016. Products are evaluated by a standards team that includes keto experts, researchers, authors and industry heavyweights such as Mark Sisson of Primal Kitchen. Today, approximately 3,200 products are Keto Certified, according to the organization.
The certification process, which takes between six and eight weeks, examines the grams of net carbohydrates (total carbs minus fiber and sugar alcohols) in each product. Meals and meal replacements have an allowance of 10 grams net carbs per serving, while 6 grams per serving are allowed for snacks and 2 grams per 0.5 ounce are allowed for condiments. But the standards also take into account the number of minimally processed, whole-food ingredients containing resistant starches, which can increase the net carb maximum slightly.
“Our sole focus is having the best set of standards and practices, and making sure that our brands get value from their certification,” says Karen Pendergrass, CEO of the Paleo Foundation.
Although Keto Certified is the most widespread keto seal, it’s not the only one. In 2019, Ketogenic.com launched Ketogenic Certified, which examines ingredients but also conducts laboratory blood testing to guarantee its products will not spike insulin or glucose levels.
“It is not enough to simply look at a nutrition label and determine whether or not a product is truly ketogenic,” says Ryan Lawery, Ph.D., CEO of Ketogenic.com. “While we do conduct a thorough ingredient panel review, blood measurements are the gold standard and necessary to determine the effects of a product on the body.” As of press time, the company has certified just shy of 40 products, according to the organization.