New EU novel food regulation comes into force

The European Union’s new regulation on novel food has formally come into force.
Photo credit: Press Association

By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

04 Jan 2018

Applicable from 1 January, the regulation is said to bring significant improvements and changes to the novel food authorisation procedure.

It includes an expanded definition for novel food to account for innovation and technology advances in the food sector, a centralised EU-wide authorisation system of novel foods and of traditional foods from third countries, a list of all authorised novel foods in the EU and data protection provisions for the applicants.

Novel food is defined as food that had not been consumed to a significant degree by humans in the EU before 15 May 1997, when the first regulation on novel food came into force.


It can be newly developed, innovative food, food produced using new technologies and production processes, as well as food which is or has been traditionally eaten outside of the EU.

Examples of novel food include new sources of vitamin K (menaquinone) or extracts from existing food (Antarctic Krill oil rich in phospholipids from Euphausia superba), agricultural products from third countries (chia seeds, noni fruit juice), or food derived from new production processes (UV-treated food - milk, bread, mushrooms and yeast).

Speaking in Brussels on Wednesday, European health and food safety Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis welcomed the new regulation.

He said, '”These changes will make the process of authorising and placing novel food on the European market simpler, quicker and more applicant friendly, while fully ensuring food safety.”

The official added, “We hope that this will add to the variety already present on the EU market of healthy, nutritious traditional and innovative foods.”

Before being authorised all novel foods must be scientifically proven to be safe to public health.

The authorisation then sets out the conditions for their use, their designation as food and labelling requirements.

A Commission spokesperson said, “The underlying principles underpinning  novel food in the European Union are that novel foods must be safe for consumers and properly labelled, so as not to mislead consumers.

“If novel food is intended to replace another food, it must not differ in a way that the consumption of the novel food would be nutritionally disadvantageous for the consumer.

“Pre-market authorisation of novel foods on the basis of an evaluation in line with the above principles is necessary,” added the spokesperson.

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