Commission considers relaxing rules on non-EU novel foods

New ingredients with a proven safe history of food use outside the European Union could have easier access to the EU market if discussions to amend the Regulation are agreed.

Speaking at the Vitafoods International discussion forum in Geneva last month, EU Food Law Unit administrator Fabio d’Atri said that a proposal is being drafted to set up special conditions in the Novel Foods Regulation for products traditionally used outside the EU.

The news was welcomed by Brussels consultancy European Advisory Services (EAS), who say that some factors in the current Novel Food Regulation could create hurdles for the marketing of bio-diverse products, and have a negative impact on EU trade and innovation.

The Regulation, which is currently under revision, applies to food ingredients which have not been used in significant degrees in foodstuffs legally sold on the EU market before May 1997.

“A number of innovative/interesting ingredients are from outside Europe, so if the history of safe use outside the EU is taken into account in the new Regulation it will have a great impact,” said Efi Leontopoulou, EAS Scientific and Regulatory Affairs Manager. “It will mean ingredients which have proven safe use outside the EU will not be considered as a novel food, and not only will this drive innovation, it will also be a good basis for competition in the food sector.”

The EU novel food authorisation has historically been regarded by stakeholders as a source of barriers to trade for developing countries. This is due to its lengthy process, which requires high standards of scientific evidence substantiating the safety of the ingredients in question.

The Commission is expected to issue its proposal in September.


EAS specialises in European and international regulation on food and nutritional products. It provides companies with regulatory and strategic advice for the marketing and approval of their products in Europe. EAS also advises governments, trade associations and companies on the impact of European and global policy.

For more information contact Estelle Marais, Communications Manager, EAS, 50 Rue del’Association, 1000 Brussels, tel: (+32) (0) 2 218 14 70 or visit

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