Novel food: innovation or health hazard? 


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Chia seeds, approved by the EU in 2009, is an example of novel food ©BELGA-EASYFOTOSTOCK 

What exactly is novel food? A new proposal setting out to define novel food and streamline the authorisation process will be discussed by the EP's food safety committee today. The European Commission already proposed in 2008 to revise existing regulation, but politicians were unable to agree on it because it include food from cloned animals, which is not part of the new proposal. Follow the discussion live on our website.

Novel food includes products such as the stevia plant (a sweetener), Tetragonia tetragonoides (a form of spinach), Noni juice (juice from an exotic fruit) or Salvia hispanica (chia seeds). They are labelled novel food as until recently they were not used as food in the EU. To ensure that they are not a risk for our health, they have to undergo an authorisation process.

Current EU legislation on novel food needs updating as new food products are being produced using new methods. The challenge is to protect intellectual property and streamline the approval process without compromising consumer protection.

The regulation should also apply to nanomaterial intended for food use.


Watch the debate live and check out our video on the topic.