Novel Foods clarification welcomed but concerns remain

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Novel food, European union

A European Commission statement that its recently published Novel Food catalogue is not legally binding for European Union Member States, has been welcomed by the European Federation of Associations of Health Product Manufacturers (EHPM).

Belgium-based EHPM said it was ‘reassured’ by the EU’s missive but said concerns remained because some ingredients may be listed in the catalogue when they had not attained novel foods status.

This was because the list was merely a discussion document that contained approved ingredients along with those with applications pending and others that had been on-market and not considered novel in some Member States.

Such ambiguity could affect the commercial prospects of some ingredients in some Member States but EHPM director of regulatory affairs, Lorene Courrege, said the fact the document was not legally binding was good for the industry.

“We are reassured with the provisions published on the Commission’s website regarding the novel food catalogue, because it states that this is only an orientation document and is considered as a living database subject to changes,” ​she said.

But the manner in which ingredients were presented on the list needed addressing, she noted.

“We still are concerned that some national authorities may use the document as a legal reference, meaning that once an ingredient appears on the list that may immediately trigger its consideration as a novel food ingredient,” ​she said.

“This will have a commercial impact on products without giving the industry the opportunity to provide information to prove the ingredient should not have novel food status.”

She criticised the current stage of the process for failing to bring in industry stakeholders

The catalogue

The Novel Food catalogue is the result of work being carried out by the Novel Food Working Group of Member State experts and EC officials.

The EC emphasises that it is not an exhaustive list and is intended to serve as a guide to granted and pending authorisations across the bloc.

“It contains a list of products of plant and animal origin as well as other substances which have been discussed in relation to their status only within the meaning of the Novel Food Regulation,”​ the EC states on a web page about the list.

It adds: “The information provided by this document should be used without prejudice to decisions that might be taken by Member States or the Commission on the basis of new or more completed information.”

The website can be found here​.

The catalogue existed previously as an internally circulated EC informal document.

EHPM said, despite the EC’s reassurances,that Member States may still incorrectly take it up as a legal document.

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