Well-prepared Novel Food launches

Published: 12-11-2015, | Member: Axon

Innovative food products based on algae, duckweed or insects must meet European Union food safety criteria. Legislation regulating Novel Foods, a category that includes alternative protein sources and nanofoods, is currently under development. Amsterdam-based Axon Lawyers is specialized in EU Novel Food regulations and supports manufacturers looking to bring their Novel Food to market.

Novel Foods are a hot topic. New proteins are more sustainable than their traditional counterparts. More and more nanotechnology-based products are introduced in all phases of the food production chain. One example is nanotech-based packaging materials that kill bacteria. Another application of nanotechnology makes it possible to flavor products without adding extra calories.

The EU has set May 15, 1997 as the starting point for its definition of Novel Foods. Any food product or ingredient introduced on the market prior to this date and consumed in significant quantities is exempted from the ‘Novel Food Regulation’. Any food introduced on the market after this date is considered a Novel Food if the product or ingredient:

  • has a new or modified molecular structure;
  • consists of or is an extract from micro-organisms, algae or fungi;
  • consists of or is an extract from plants or animals, other than the result from traditional propagation or breeding;
  • is manufactured with a new technology that affects its nutritional value or metabolism or the level of undesired substances.

Quick scan

“Any company that wants to market an alternative source of protein has to deal with the Novel Food Regulation,” says Karin Verzijden, lawyer at Axon Lawyers. “A company’s first step should be to sort out whether or not this regulation applies to their product or ingredient. That is something anyone can do, using an online quick scan tool.”

“The European Commission has published a list on the Internet, the Novel Food catalogue, which lists the status of various products and ingredients. If the product or ingredient dates back to before May 15, 1997, it has a green check. That means it’s no problem to market it.”

If the product does not have a green check, further research is needed to prove it is safe for consumers. Such proof must be scientifically substantiated. In addition, the product must not be misleading to consumers and must be a good replacement for existing food products. Also, the food product must be properly labeled in compliance with EU criteria.

Verzijden explains that Axon Lawyers has contacts with various partners, such as nutritionists, who can help: “We’re here to help. We can point companies in the right direction and help them formulate their requests and represent them before the public authorities. And we know all about the latest changes. The legislation has been changing fast lately in an effort to make it simpler to market Novel Foods. That’s a positive development. We advise every company active in this area to stay informed. Axon Lawyers regularly organizes workshops and seminars on this topic. And we also publish a blog that covers all the latest developments.”

Axon Lawyers