The juice is already sold in Germany by GSE Vertrieb, which applied for novel foods approval last year. Nature's Products has now applied to the UK's Food Standards Agency for approval in this market too, based on the equivalence of the food to the product already on sale.
Noni, also known as 'Indian mulberry' and 'nonu', is believed to have originated in Southeast Asia and to have been distributed subsequently by ancient voyagers or other means into the Pacific islands, including Tahiti and Hawaii. The plant is also found in India, Africa and the West Indies.
However unsubstantiated claims for the benefits of 'Tahitian noni' have landed marketers in court in the US and prompted bans of the product in some European countries too.
Last year's novel foods approval for noni included the requirement that there were no accompanying health claims to the product. The Irish food authority says however that a number of independent distributors have begun to procure noni juice through internet sites and to market the product in Ireland with health claims.
In response, the Irish Food Safety Authority recently issued a warning to consumers that any health or medical claims appearing on products containing noni juice were 'totally unsubstantiated'.
The assessment of novel foods in the UK is carried out by the Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes (ACNFP). Comments on this latest application should be sent to the ACNFP Secretariat by 22 October 2004 and will be passed to the Committee before it finalises its opinion.