Views Wanted on Shiitake Extract

A Danish company has applied to the Agency for approval to market its lentinan-rich extract from shiitake mushrooms as a novel food supplement and novel food ingredient.

A novel food is a food or food ingredient that does not have a significant history of consumption within the European Union before 15 May 1997.

The company, GlycaNova (formerly known as Medimush) submitted its application in February 2008. This follows the company previously submitting an application in September 2006 under what is known as the ‘simplified procedure’. This is where a company considers a novel food or novel food ingredient ‘substantially equivalent’ to a food or food ingredient already on the market. However, in this case equivalence could not be demonstrated and so the full application, which can be found at the link below, was subsequently submitted.

Before any new food product can be introduced on the European market, it must be rigorously assessed for safety. In the UK, the assessment of novel foods is carried out by an independent committee of scientists appointed by the Food Standards Agency, the Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes (ACNFP).

Deadline for Comments

Following an initial public consultation period and the discussion of this application by the ACNFP at its meetings in 2007 and 2008, the committee has formulated a draft initial opinion on this novel food ingredient. Any comments on this should be emailed to the ACNFP Secretariat at [email protected] by Wednesday 15 October 2008.

Comments will be passed to the committee before it finalises its opinion on this novel food supplement and novel food ingredient.

The science behind the story

Lentinan is a beta-glucan, a complex carbohydrate, that is found in various foods including legumes, cereals, tubers, fruits and mushrooms such as shiitake (Lentinus edodes). This fungus is indigenous to Japan, China and other Asian countries with warm climates and is usually found growing on fallen deciduous trees.

Fresh shiitake mushrooms are now produced widely in Europe and is available in most supermarkets and fresh food stores.

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