The European Commission’s DG SANTE asked EFSA to help it update the 2008 system and develop scientific guidance for notifications of traditional foods from third countries.
According to EFSA’s register of questions a deadline of 31 October this year has been negotiated for the technical assistants.
Under the new proposals for a centralised novel food processing system, EFSA would take on applications previously managed by national authorities.
One key change in the proposal is to extend the process to foods with a safe history of consumption in countries outside of the EU.
Proponents have long hoped for changes that would allow foods and ingredients that had been consumed safely for a substantial amount of time onto the European market. The current system dictates that a food or ingredient must have a documentable history of consumption in Europe before 15th May 1997.
This system has made proof of safety challenging for ingredients outside of the EU and does not distinguish them from 'innovative' ingredients and products.
However, the European Consumer Organisation (BEUC) has expressed concern about how such ‘history of safe use’ would be assessed given that the term remains relatively undefined.
Others have said clarity in assessment would be key since third-country products are the only ones on which member states could retain their right to object.