New fears over 'novel-food catalogue'

EHPM concerned, but Brussels insists list is not legally binding

A statement from the European Commission that its recently published 'novel-food catalogue' was not legally binding was reassuring, according to the European Federation of Associations of Health Product Manufacturers (EHPM), but fears remained that listing an ingredient in it could harm its commercial viability.

The catalogue, which was previously an informal document circulated internally within the commission, lists ingredients that have been discussed by member states and the commission in relation to their novel-food status.

The commission's website has made it clear the catalogue should not be taken at face value when determining the classification of products.

However, Lorene Courrege, EHPM director of regulatory affairs, said, "We are concerned national authorities may use the document as a legal reference, meaning that once an ingredient appears on the list, that may immediately trigger its consideration as a novel-food ingredient. This will have a commercial impact on products without giving the industry the opportunity to provide information to prove the ingredient should not have novel-food status."

A novel food is a food or food ingredient that does not have a significant history of consumption within the EU before 15 May 1997. In such a case an application must be made to prove it is safe before it can be used.

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