The EU is reviewing the regulation of novel foods authorisation, which could see the 28 Member States (MSs) stripped of their main risk assessment role as the procedure is centralised, bringing it in line with that used to authorise additives.
Under current rules, all novel ingredients and processes that have not been consumed to a “significant degree” in the EU before May 15 1997 have to be approved by competent authorities in each MS. In the UK, the Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes (ACNFP) is the competent body, that has been in existence since 1988 and provides authorisation for novel foods and processes.
The ACNFP comprises a panel of 16 scientists and other experts in the field of food science and safety, which provides advice to the Food Standards Agency. It is currently chaired by Professor Peter Gregory, chief executive of East Malling Research and professor of global food security at the University of Reading.
‘Unlikely to occur’
Any change to the rules governing novel foods authorisation is unlikely to occur before 2016 at the earliest, said ACNFP secretary Dr Sandy Lawrie.
Since the process started in 1997 there have been 155 full applications for novel foods approval across the EU, around one-in-three of these from the UK. 100 applications have also gone through the Article 5, ‘simplified procedure’, notification process, where “substantial equivalence” to existing products on the market is claimed.