FSA News Item, 14 August 2006
Comments are needed on an application to the Agency to use baobab fruit pulp as an ingredient in smoothies and cereal bars.
The company PhytoTrade Africa has applied to use baobab dried fruit pulp as a novel food ingredient. A novel food is a food or food ingredient which does not have a significant history of consumption within the European Union before 15 May 1997 .
Baobab trees are found mainly in South Africa , Botswana , Namibia , Mozambique and Zimbabwe . Baobab dried fruit pulp is derived from the fruits of the baobab tree (Adansonia digitata), also known as the 'upside down tree'. On pollination by fruit bats, this tree produces large green or brownish fruits. Different parts of the fruit are a traditional food in these countries.
PhytoTrade Africa wants to market a baobab dried fruit pulp as a novel food ingredient for use in a range of food products such as smoothies, cereal bars and other similar food products. The level of baobab dried fruit pulp in this product will be between 5 and 15%.
The company also intends to market a baobab fruit pulp with the pectin removed as an ingredient for use in other products such as biscuits, confectionery, and related products. Pectin can thicken or cloud a product, which can limit the ways in which it is used.
Before any 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).
As well as information on the nutritional content of the baobab fruit, the application also has details of the way the fruit and closely related species have been used in different countries, both as a general foodstuff and for particular ceremonial uses. It also discusses the environmental impact of harvesting the fruit.
Any comments on this application should be sent to the ACNFP Secretariat by 3 September 2006 and will be passed to the Committee before it finalises its opinion.