Ever heard of chia seeds, flavonoids, glycyrrhiza glabra or rapeseed protein? They are all classified as novel foods. On Wednesday 28 October the European Parliament approved plans to make it easier to get them approved by 359 to 202 votes with 127 abstentions. The proposal still has to be approved by the Council of Ministers before it can enter into force.
What novel foods are
Novel food is either newly-developed, innovative food or food that has been produced using new technologies and production processes. This includes not only products such as insects and nanomaterials, but also fungi, algae and new colorants. It can also include food that is regularly consumed in other parts of the world, but that has never been traditionally eaten before in the EU.
Why existing rules need to be updated
Current EU regulation on novel foods dates back to 1997. Since then various new foods and food ingredients have been developed. The revision of the regulation is necessary to keep up with scientific and technological advances.
What would change
The new rules would subject novel food to a safety evaluation and authorisation at the EU level. If there was a possibility a new food could affect people's health, then the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) would have to carry out an assessment.
As requested by MEPs, the proposed rules would also cover food from cloned animals until specific legislation on cloning is adopted as well as a new definition of nanomaterials and restrictions on animal testing.
In addition to the Parliament, the text will also have to be approved by the Council of Ministers, which represents EU countries, before it can enter into force. If not, the two institutions will have to restart negotiations.
Copyright infographic European Parliament