Food Law News - UK - 2011

FSA New Item, 4 April 2011

NOVEL FOODS - Views wanted on algal application

A US company has applied to the Food Standards Agency for approval to market algal oil that is produced from Schizochytrium microalgae, as a novel food ingredient. 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.

The company, Martek Biosciences Corporation, has previously gained approval to use docosahaexanoic acid (DHA)-rich oil, produced from the algae Schizochytrium sp, as a novel food ingredient. Martek has now developed an improved strain from another species of Schizochytrium microalgae that produces an oil rich in both DHA and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). The oil is known as DHA-O.

Martek intends to market DHA-O at similar use levels and in similar food categories to those currently approved for its DHA-rich oil. These food categories include food supplements, bakery products, and breakfast cereals. Approval for uses in biscuits (cookies) and cooking oils is also sought.

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

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