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Novel Foods

Novel Foods

Simply put novel foods refer to foods or ingredients, with no significant history of human consumption in the EU before 15 May 1997. Guidelines regarding novel food are under EU’s Novel Foods Regulation. Any novel food entering the EU market must undergo rigorous testing to determine its safety.

For instance, before selling a novel product in the UK, scientists appointed by the Food Standards Agency (FSA), conduct the safety tests.  Under the FSA is the Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes coordinates the approval process.

Types of Novel Foods
Currently, you will not find one authorized list of novel foods. Checking from different online records is essential. Additionally, the FSA sends letters about all the status of a specific ingredient or food that has been queried. You can find the letters on this external link. https://www.food.gov.uk/science/novel/unauthorised/

You can also write an email to request information about specific foods or ingredients: novelfoods@foodstandards.gsi.gov.uk

Here are examples of novel food products reviewed under by the FSA:
African green mango and extracts
Acacia rigidula (Blackbrush Acacia)
Raspberry ketones (extract from raspberries)
Mesquite (Prosopsis pallida)
Chia Seeds

How Are Novel Foods Assessed?
An individual EU member first assesses the novel food or ingredient. The member state will prepare an initial assessment report, which it sends to other EU states, via the European Commission. Each state will have a limited time to respond to the report by either accepting or rejecting it.

In case the outcome is a rejection, the applying party can discuss the concerns with the Commission or member states. EC may seek further clarification from the European Food Safety Authority. After the end of the process, the Commission finalized the decision, which is a grant or rejection. If the member states do not raise any objections, the EU member state may decide to reject or authorize the novel food in their country.

If your company is looking to file a novel food application, there are various resources to use. Start by reading the Commission’s guide on how to write a food application letter. Also, look at letter samples in this external link.

Does an Approved Food Need Additional Permission
Chia seeds are novel foods approved back in 2007. If your company sells Chia seeds, do you require additional approval? Yes, because the grant was issued to the company that applied for the grant back in 2007. However, you can obtain a grant without going through the lengthy process. It happens when your company’s product is similar to authorized novel food. In addition, if you aim to use the product in the same way as the approved novel food or ingredient. 

If your company wants to use the novel food or ingredient in a new way or for different food categories, you will need to start the comprehensive food assessment process. For instance, the company applied to use Chia foods on bread. If you intend to use it for ice creams or any other way, the ‘substantial equivalence’ route will not apply to you. 

Obtaining the permission to sell novel food products is the sole responsibility of one company. Each importer or exporter should seek separate approvals. 
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