The new legislation, which was agreed last month after seven years of discussion and comes into force from late 2017, aims to allow businesses to bring new and innovative food to the EU market more easily, while maintaining a high level of food safety. It covers a much wider range of food categories than before, and a new exception has been introduced for foods from countries outside the EU with a safe history of use.
Safe and trusted innovation
Barbara Gallani, chief scientist at the Food and Drink Federation, said the regulation would “ensure a manageable framework for industry that would allow innovation while ensuring safe and trusted food for consumers”.
She added: “The main advantages of having this piece of legislation are a more predictable outcome of novel food applications and a more streamlined approach, thanks to the agreed central authorisation process.”
European manufacturers’ organisation FoodDrinkEurope (FDE) also welcomed the changes, arguing it was of “crucial importance” to Europe’s food and drink industry. FDE praised the provisions for data protection and new definition of ‘nano-material’, which would be amended as knowledge evolves.
Quicker and more consistent
Hilary Ross, partner at law firm DWF, agreed the centralised authorisation process would make decision-making quicker and more consistent.
However, on the exception introduced for foods from third countries with a safe history, Ross claimed it “may be challenging for companies to demonstrate that the ‘food in question has been confirmed with compositional data and from experience of continued use for at least 25 years in the customary diet of a significant number of people’”.
Between 1997 and 2014, there have been around 170 applications for authorisation across the EU. So far, around 90 novel foods have been authorised for use.