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News Story
3 December 2009

‘What’s new on Novel Foods’ - EFSA's 13th Scientific Colloquium

EFSA scientists organised a colloquium with international experts on 19-20 November to discuss scientific information needed for applications on novel foods and novel food ingredients submitted for authorisation in the European Union. In the light of the revision of the Novel Foods Regulation, EFSA will be asked by the European Commission to update the existing scientific and technical guidance for applicants bringing novel foods to the EU market prepared by the former Scientific Committee on Food (SCF).

The colloquium was attended by around 100 international experts in safety assessment and regulatory affairs, food manufacturers and others involved in novel foods, coming from 24 countries, including the United States, Peru and New Zealand.

Discussions on the assessment of novel foods focused in particular on the history of safe use of traditional foods from non-EU countries but which would be considered “novel” in the EU, intake assessment, and the toxicology and allergenicity of novel foods. Participants also addressed the issue of nanotechnologies, in particular data requirements for demonstrating the safety of novel foods made using nanotechnologies.

Among other topics, the experts discussed data requirements for demonstrating the safety of traditional foods consumed in third countries but not yet introduced in the EU. They also considered requirements for a food consumption database required to assess food intakes in the EU, different types of toxicological tests and the lack of data on the safety of foods containing nanoparticles.

The colloquium provided valuable input for the future development of EFSA’s guidance on the safety assessment of novel foods, which will be useful to both applicants and risk assessors.

The outcome of the meeting will be summarised in a report published on EFSA’s website.

Novel foods are foods and food ingredients that were not used for human consumption to a significant degree within the European Community before 15 May 1997. Regulation (EC) No 258/97 of January 1997 lays out detailed rules for the authorisation of novel foods and novel food ingredients. These rules were applicable also to foods containing or consisting of a genetically modified organism (GMO) until 2003 when the GMO Regulation came into force. The scientific aspects of information necessary to support applications for placing on the European market novel foods and novel food ingredients were addressed by recommendations of the Scientific Committee on Food (SCF).

In 2003 EFSA took over the tasks of the SCF in providing a safety assessment on novel food applications requested by the European Commission. Due to the upcoming revision of the Novel Food Regulation and considering the significant development of emerging sciences such as nanotechnology and the proposed introduction of the assessment of traditional foods from non-EU countries on the basis of a history of safe use, EFSA will be asked by the European Commission to provide scientific and technical guidance for applicants in their preparation and presentation of the application for novel food and novel food ingredients.

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