Under the original novel foods regulation, foods and food ingredients that have no history of safe use in the EU before 15 May 1997 may not be place on the market before they have gone through an approvals process. Once the first approval has been granted, subsequent applicants can apply for approval on the grounds of substantial equivalence.
The regulation is now being revised as some new and emerging technologies, such as nanotechnology, which need to be taken into consideration. Also, the regulation has also come in for criticism since approvals can take a long time to come through, which can have an impact on the competitive of the European food sector. It has been proposed that the updated regulation should contain a system for assessing foods that already have a safe history of use outside the EU.
The UK Food Standards Agency is planning an open workshop on 21 April, held by its Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes (ACNFP). As well as updating delegates on the progress of the amendments, the agenda also includes the adding of novel biological active substances in food and food supplements, public attitudes to innovation and risk, and how novel foods might help promote sustainability of the food supply.
The panel will also take questions of the assessment of novel foods and GM foods, and questions may be submitted in advance.
How technologies are received
Last week the FSA published the findings of a survey on British Social Attitudes to food technologies. While there was consideration variation in views, overall it found that 54 per cent of respondents agreed that research and development in food technologies needs to be supported, even if it costs a lot.
Around half of people said they would not buy hypothetical new foods, even if they brought health benefits. However familiarity with food technology terminology seemed to reduce concern.
Interestingly, when it came to GM foods, few people were seen to have strong views for or against. The strongest views tended to be negative rather than positive.
More information on the FSA workshop is available at this linkhttp://www.acnfp.gov.uk/meetings/acnfpmeet10/acnfpopen21apr10/invopen21apr10
Information on the British Social Attitudes survey is available at this link http://www.food.gov.uk/multimedia/pdfs/bsa08foodtechnologies.pdf