Food Law News - UK - 2006

FSA News Item, 3 October 2006

NOVEL FOODS - Views needed on iron ingredient

A company has applied to the Agency to sell ferric sodium EDTA as a novel food ingredient.

Novel foods are a food or food ingredient that does not have a significant history of consumption within the European Union before 15 May 1997.

Akzo Nobel Functional Chemicals hopes to market ferric sodium EDTA (ethylenediaminetetraacetate) as a source of iron for use in the manufacture of foods for particular nutritional uses and food supplements as a direct replacement for permitted forms of iron.

Before any new 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 normally carried out by an independent committee of scientists appointed by the Food Standards Agency, the Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes (ACNFP).

The ACNFP has noted that the use of the ingredient in these products requires assessment and authorisation under separate legislation concerning foods for particular nutritional uses and food supplements directives, so the Agency has concluded that this application requires additional assessment. A decision on authorisation should be taken once the European Food Safety Authority's advice is available.

Deadline for comments

Any comments on this application should be sent to the ACNFP Secretariat by 24 October 2006 and will be passed to the Committee before it finalises its opinion.

The science behind the story

Ferric sodium EDTA is a form of iron made from crystallising water-based solutions of ferric chloride and tetrasodium EDTA with hydrochloric acid. Akzo Nobel Functional Chemicals hope it will be an alternative source of iron for use in food supplements. The amount of ferric sodium EDTA that would be added to food supplements would be similar to that of other forms of oxidised iron currently approved for such use.

Oxidised iron is one form of iron that we need. When taken in food or supplements the iron is separated out in our gut and eventually goes to help make red blood cells, which carry oxygen round our bodies.

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