Europeans to enjoy new culinary delights as plans get underway to put innovative ingredients onto supermarket shelves and into European cuisine.
Ingredients produced using new techniques and foods not traditionally consumed in Europe are the focus of the commission's latest proposal to stimulate innovation in the food sector.
According to health commissioner Kyprianou, this will "offer EU consumers the benefit of the most up-to-date choice of foodstuffs possible and provide a favourable environment for the food industry in Europe."
Novel foods are already covered by EU legislation. But the new proposal would create a more efficient and practical set of rules. Building on experience gained with the existing law, the proposal takes on board recent developments in technology and scientific opinion.
To streamline procedures, novel foods would be assessed and authorised through a central system – the EU's food safety watchdog (EFSA). At present, initial assessments are carried out by individual EU countries.
Products found to be safe could then be authorised throughout the EU, making the authorisation procedure faster, clearer and more uniform.
In the case of food familiar outside the EU but new to Europe, once applicants have proved that the food is safe it can be placed on the market as little as five months after notification.
One example of a novel ingredient is an oil rich in DHA or docosahexaenoic acid, for use in diary products and milk substitutes for people who are lactose intolerant. It can also be used in spreadable fats, breakfast cereals, food supplements and dietary foods.