New ‘traditional use’ system could be source of new 13.1 claims

Change to novel foods rules may open door for raft of new fruits … and health claims

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Simplification and centralisation of the European novel foods process means applications based on traditional use will soon be allowed – Resulting in shorter and cheaper routes to market, and the potential for using new fruits and juices that could come with health claims, says Dr John Wilkinson.

Novel food laws are changing. Meaning that from January 2018 we will have a centralised system which allows applications via the traditional use route.

Up until now in the EU, Wilkinson suggests that the novel foods directive has ‘held up’ the import of new fruits as the expense of getting new novel fruits and juices approved was millions of dollars.

However, a new EU revision of the novel foods directive is due to come into force in January 2018, as long as an organisation or company submitting a new fruit or juice for approval can show 25 years of history of use in the country of origin, the approval process will be significantly shortened and simplified under the new Directive for Traditional Foods (EC Regulation No. 2015/2283).

As a result, Wilkinson suggests novel foods approval for exotic fruits and juices could be slashed from millions of dollars to as low as ten thousand dollars.

We caught up Dr Wilkinson – who recently published a pair of studies looking at the impact of these changes – particularly on the use of exotic fruits and fruit juices, and the potential for health claims.

Wilkinson, along with his partner Kesia Trench, looked at fruits from Brazil, and focused on fruits that were classed as being exotic to even locals. After searching through thousands of fruits and vegetables, the pair identified and initial 50 fruits, which were then trimmed down to 10 prime candidates, that European importers and manufacturers could target after the changes to legislation. 

Upon analysis, they found that many of the exotic Brazilian fruits identified had higher levels of nutrients than fruits hat are commonly suggested to be ‘good sources’ in Europe - leaving huge potential for generic health claims under EFSA's article 13.1 guidance, said Wilkinson. 

Indeed, it is possible that many exotic fruits from Brazil, could have superior nutritional value and so be a good source of nutritional foods and ingredients in the future. For example, Wilkinson noted that Camu Camu contains around 2 grams per 100 g of vitamin C - which is considerably higher than an average orange, which he suggests contains around 30mg per 100 g.  

"It's astonishing," said Wilkinson. "This is just the tip of the iceberg. There are going to be so many fruits and vegetables which have new or different combinations of nutrients, which can contribute to our health in some way."

[Click play at the top of this article to hear our extended podcast with Dr John Wilkinson]

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