Food Law News - UK - 2009

FSA News Item, 9 February 2009

NOVEL FOODS - Views wanted on astaxanthin extract

An Indian company has applied to the Food Standards Agency for approval to market its astaxanthin-rich extract obtained from the algae Haematococcus pluvialis as a novel food supplement. A novel food is a food or food ingredient that does not have a significant history of consumption within the European Union before 15 May 1997.

Astaxanthin is a carotenoid that is found in H. pluvialis. This microalgae is part of the diet of fish or crustaceans (such as salmon and shrimps) and is responsible for the pink colouration in their flesh, through the ingestion of astaxanthin.

The company, Parry Nutraceuticals, intends to produce softgel capsules containing up to 4mg of astaxanthin as dietary supplements.

The company has submitted the application under what is known as the ‘simplified procedure'. This is where a company considers a novel food or novel food ingredient ‘substantially equivalent' to a food or food ingredient already on the market. In all cases to date, the European Commission has required that an applicant first obtains an opinion on substantial equivalence from a Member State. In this case, Parry Nutraceuticals has requested an opinion from the FSA, the UK competent authority, on the equivalence of its extract to the company's astaxanthin oleoresin product that is exported to a number of countries, including European Union Member States.

Before any new food product can be introduced on the European market it must be rigorously assessed for safety. In the UK, the assessment of novel foods is carried out by an independent committee of scientists appointed by the Food Standards Agency, the Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes (ACNFP).

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