Future bright for novel foods following Strasbourg vote

Last week MEPs adopted proposals that will enable novel foods to be brought to market with far less obstruction and bureaucracy.

The changes to the Novel Foods Regulation aim to streamline the processes for approving new foods, specifically by having a single authorisation procedure in place for the EU, for which the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) will take overall responsibility.

Fooddrink Europe has said that delays of 30-plus months in approving new food products can reduce a food company’s returns by an average of E4 million per product and this discourages investment in new products. The current average approval time is 35 months but this should be reduced to 18-24 months with the new centralised approach.

Speaking after the vote, Jim Nicholson, European Conservatives and Reformists MEP and the rapporteur on the proposal, said: “This proposal is good for Europe’s food industry and good for Europe’s food lovers. Chia seeds are one example of a new food that has made a major impact on the market because of its health benefits. There is literally a world of opportunity for food companies out there but our cumbersome authorization processes have discouraged companies from making the right investments.

The new law updates legislation from 1997. A previous proposal to improve the law fell in 2011 due to controversies around issues related to cloning but in this revised proposal all matters relating to cloned animals have been separated out into another legislative proposal.

“The thorny issue of cloning has delayed this new rule for too long, so the European Commission was right in separating out cloning from this law and passing separate legislation. We cannot afford any more delays,” added Nicholson.

“This new law gives food companies the incentive to invest more in novel foods, boosting Europe’s food industry, creating jobs, and bringing a whole wealth of new food products into our shops.”