Novel foods – the cost of getting it wrong!

Posted 4 July, 2018

The European Commission recently asked EU Member States, Norway and Switzerland to take part in a voluntary investigation to look at food products offered online. The investigation was launched in September 2017 and ran for one month.

In total, the food control authorities from 25 Member States, Norway and Switzerland took part. Approximately 1,000 websites were checked and the investigation revealed some very interesting results:

  • 1,100 websites checked
  • 428 unauthorised novel foods identified
  • 351 food supplements identified that made medicinal claims
  • In total, 779 non-compliant products were identified

The results show that many non-compliant novel food products or food supplements bearing non-compliant claims are being sold online.

The reasons for this are not clear. It could be that the manufacturers are blissfully unaware of the regulations or that they are trying their luck. Either way, it is the responsibility of food business operators to ensure compliance with EU legislation.

The new novel food regulation 2015/2283 came into force on 1 January 2018, and by this time, Member States had to inform the European Commission of the penalties they have in place for non-compliance.

The penalties for selling unauthorised novel foods differ between Member States. In some countries e.g. Austria, the fine for marketing an unauthorised novel food is 50,000 EUR, and is a clear deterrent. However, in other countries e.g. Latvia the fines are very low (700 EUR) and would not deter a company trying their luck.

However, the regulations are not always 100% clear, so it is advisable to seek professional guidance if you are unsure if your product is novel or if you are unsure about the claims you can make.

The laws and regulations are difficult to understand sometimes. Pen & Tec can help you to interpret them and provide guidance to meet requirements, so your products can pass through the regulatory process in the shortest time possible.

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