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New Novel Food Regulation Agreed

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New Novel Food Regulation Agreed

New Novel Food Regulation Agreed
November 18
12:07 2015

The new novel food Regulation has been agreed that aims to improve conditions so that businesses can more easily bring new and innovative food to the EU market, while still maintaining a high level of food safety for European consumers. It will offer European consumers the benefit of a broader choice of food and a more favourable environment for Europe’s agri-food industry – the second largest employment sector in Europe – to benefit from innovation, which in turn is good for growth and jobs.

Novel food is defined as food that has not been consumed to any significant degree in the EU before May 1997 (when the first novel food legislation entered into force). This can be newly developed, innovative food or food produced using new technologies and production processes as well as food traditionally eaten outside of the EU. Recently approved novel foods include oil from Buglossoides arvensis, rapeseed protein and coriander seed oil.

Between 1997 and 2014, there have been around 170 applications for authorisation across the EU (7-10 applications/year). So far around 90 novel foods have been authorised for use.

Authorised novel food includes products traditionally eaten in non-EU countries such as chia seeds (high in omega-3 fatty acids), and food produced using the latest technological innovations such as heat-treated milk products fermented with Bacteroides xylanisolvens. Other examples include “salatrim” a reduced-energy fat, DHA-rich oil from microalgae, a high-pressure fruit juice (which is an example of a food derived from new production processes).

The current rules date back almost 20 years. Since then, technological developments and scientific advice have evolved considerably. Therefore, to reduce the current length (3 and a half years on average) for the authorisation procedure, EU rules needed to be updated. A previous revision was proposed by the Commission back in 2008, but agreement could not be reached between the Council and the European Parliament.

The new Regulation increases the efficiency of the authorisation procedure, enables a quicker delivery of safe, innovative food to market and removes unnecessary barriers to trade, whilst ensuring a high level of food safety.

It creates a centralised authorisation system, which will allow greater certainty for applicants seeking an authorisation for novel food and will simplify and speed up the authorisation process.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) will conduct a scientific risk assessment for the novel food application, while the Commission will manage the files of each applicant and put forward a proposal for the authorisation of a novel food which is found to be safe.

The new Regulation has still to be formally adopted by the European Parliament and the Council before its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union.

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