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‘Clear labelling’ can address chia oil allergy concerns: UK FSA

By Shane Starling , 20-Jun-2013
Last updated the 20-Jun-2013 at 15:02 GMT

Chia oil can safely enter EU markets for the first time as long as potential allergenic effects are labelled, the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) has concluded in a draft EU novel foods opinion.

The FSA Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes (ACNFP) issued a positive draft opinion that chia oil could be used in food supplements up to 2g per day and oils and fats blended with 10% chia oil.

Non-alcoholic beverages were not accepted by the FSA as it called for public comment on the submission from Chilean firm Functional Products Trading.

Functional Products Trading was in involved in a previous application for chia seeds that won EU novel foods approval in 2009 in bread products. Then, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) determined no safety or allergenic concerns.

Chia seeds have subsequently been approved for use in breakfast cereals, baked goods and fruit, nut and seed mixes.

Clear labelling

For chia (Salvia hispanica) oil, the ACNFP raised concerns about intakes for ‘at risk’ groups like seed allergy sufferers.

“The Committee accepted that clear labelling would be adequate to address safety concerns in relation to allergic reactions amongst known ‘at risk’ groups and suggested that this should be accompanied by a programme to raise awareness among these individuals,” it wrote.

“In order that information is widely disseminated the Committee recommended that the applicant should proactively seek to work with consumer groups, allergy support groups and the relevant competent authorities in each Member State when they are seeking to place new products containing chia on the market.”

“It would also be advisable to inform allergy clinics so that they can report any cases of chia allergy to the relevant national authorities.”

It called for further research into different seed allergies.

The draft opinion on the ingredient rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, as well as protein, fibre and amino acids can be found here .

The public consultation period ends on July 1 this year.

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