With the need to develop healthier and more sustainable food products, the introduction of new foods could be key to the transformation of our food system. Although European diets vary from region to region and household to household, innovation is accelerating and new food ingredients are entering the European market. Whether they are entirely new food concepts, or foods influenced by cultures and diets from across the world, could novel foods help to create a future-fit food system in Europe?
What are novel foods?
Novel foods are classified as foods that were not widely consumed within the EU before 15 May 1997; they can be innovative, newly developed, or produced using new technologies and processes (1). In some circumstances, novel foods can be introduced to a region or market to ‘replace’ another food because they are considered healthier or more sustainable. Examples include new sources of vitamins, extracts from plants or existing foods, or agricultural products from other countries (1).
Europe saw an explosion of new food products entering the EU market during the 1990s, and this led to the introduction of the first novel food legislation in May 1997 which stated that novel foods must (1):
- be safe for consumers, and not pose a risk to public health
- be properly labelled, so as not to mislead consumers
- not differ in a way that the consumption of the novel food would be nutritionally disadvantageous, if intended to replace another food.
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