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Updating rules on novel foods to keep up with scientific advances

Written by Tarja Laaninen

To protect public health, new foods or food ingredients (‘novel foods’) require safety assessment and authorisation before they can be placed on the EU market.

The current authorisation process covering novel foods is seen by the food industry as complex, expensive and time-consuming. In addition, stakeholders agree that updating the current Novel Foods Regulation, which dates back to 1997, is urgently needed to reflect scientific and technological advances.

© beeboys / Fotolia

In December 2013, the Commission presented a revised proposal on novel foods. Questions related to cloning have been left out of the proposal, as disagreement concerning food derived from cloned animals led to the failure of the previous attempt at revision of the Regulation in 2008.

The main changes in the new proposal are: the removal of the former novel food categories; a centralised authorisation process; a shift from applicant-based to generic authorisations; and a simplified procedure for traditional foods from third countries.

Interinstitutional trilogue negotiations started in December 2014; the Committee of Member States’ Permanent Representatives (Coreper) approved the resulting compromise text on 10 June, and the EP’s Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) followed suit on 25 June 2015. The text is expected to be voted in plenary in October 2015.

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