FSA News Item,18 June 2007
The Food Standards Agency has reviewed responses following its call for evidence of consumption of goji berries within the European Union before May 1997.
In the Agency's opinion, there is sufficient evidence to indicate that goji berries were being consumed to a significant degree in the UK before May 1997. This means that the requirements of the novel food regulations do not apply to this product and goji berries can continue to be sold without the need for authorisation.
Goji berries, also known as Chinese wolfberries, are small red fruits from the plant Lycium barbarum, which is a vine that grows in China , Tibet and other parts of Asia .
In the European Union, a food is judged to be novel if it was not eaten in a significant quantity in Europe before May 1997. According to the EU Novel Foods Regulation (EC) 258/97, new foods must be shown to meet three criteria before they can be authorised for sale: they must not be unsafe, their labelling must not be misleading and their nutritional quality must not be inferior to other similar foods that they could replace.
This regulation provides important safeguards for consumers by checking whether new foods are suitable for the whole population, including people with food allergies.