Council approves final compromise text on novel foods

By Caroline SCOTT-THOMAS contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Novel foods, European union

The proposal would make it easier to introduce new foods into Europe that have a safe history of consumption elsewhere
The proposal would make it easier to introduce new foods into Europe that have a safe history of consumption elsewhere
A European Council committee has rejected a proposal that would have allowed the European Parliament the right to veto novel foods approvals – saying this would contradict the law’s purpose to simplify authorisation.

Novel foods are foods not widely consumed in the EU before 1997, and the Council’s Permanent Representatives Committee (Coreper) approved a final compromise text on new EU rules for novel foods on Thursday. It intends to make it faster and cheaper to introduce novel foods on the EU market while also safeguarding health, and is expected to go back to Parliament for a first-reading vote at the beginning of July.

Council spokesperson Jérôme Unterhuber told FoodNavigator: “The most important EP amendment which Coreper could not accept is the request to have new novel foods authorised with delegated acts. The Council (as the Commission) consider that accepting this amendment would be in contradiction to the purpose of the new regulation, i.e. to simplify and accelerate the authorisation procedure.”

EU-wide approvals

However, the European Parliament’s insistence on a right to veto approvals has been a sticking point during negotiations, and Member States have said they would block such a move on the basis that the issues considered in a novel foods approval are technical in nature and therefore should be left to experts.

Under current rules, novel foods are approved only at a national level, and only for the applicant company, but the Council’s proposal would allow EU-wide, generic approvals. This would mean that once a novel food was authorised, it could be placed on the market by any food company. 

Traditional foods

The proposal would also make it easier to introduce traditional foods into Europe that already have a history of safe consumption elsewhere.

“Those foods should have been consumed in a third country for at least 25 years as a part of the customary diet of a significant number of people in at least one third country,”​ said Unterhuber.

Cloning

Finally, the Council’s text clarifies that the novel food rules would explicitly cover food from cloned animals, at least until specific rules on cloning come into force.

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