The Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes (ACNFP) has recommended that the product, from Leap of Faith Farms, is 'substantially equivalent' to a previously approved product and so can go on sale in the EU.
An application for noni juice, made under the Novel Foods Regulation (EC) 258/97, was approved on 5 June 2003. This approval applies to the applicant company only but Regulation (EC) 258/97 makes provision for novel foods or ingredients that are substantially equivalent to an existing product to be placed on the market once the applicant has informed the European Commission.
Leap of Faith Farms wants to market its noni juice obtained from noni fruit grown in Panama in four forms: pure fresh juice, fresh juice with 3-15 per cent other fruit juices, fresh juice concentrated and frozen (for transport and subsequent reconstituting), and dried fresh juice (for transport and subsequent reconstituting).
All of these would be sold as ingredients for a pasteurised fruit drink.
Noni juice comes from the fruit commonly known as 'noni'. But it is also known as 'Indian Mulberry' and 'nonu'. It is believed to have originated in Southeast Asia and to have been distributed subsequently by ancient voyagers or other means into the Pacific islands, including Tahiti and Hawaii.
Today, it is one of a number of antioxidant fruits, including pomegranate, guarana, mangosteen, goji berries and blueberries, which are increasingly seen by food and beverage makers as up and coming ingredients.
Leatherhead Foods predicts that sales of such heart health foods will rise nearly 60 per cent over the 2004-2009 period to reach nearly $5.7 billion by 2009. Although it said in its recent Heart Benefit Foods report that, until now, juice drinks have tended to have a general health positioning due to their antioxidant content, there are signs that this may be about to change.
The expert committee that advises the agency on novel foods, is a non-statutory, independent body of scientific experts that carries out safety assessments of any novel food or process submitted for approval under the EC novel food regulation.
It is supported in its work by a secretariat provided by the FSA. The secretariat has scientific expertise that enables them to provide Members with comprehensive background information and briefing papers that inform the decision-making processes of the Committee.