Following a recent application to the UK Competent Authority for clearance of cereal fractions as novel foods, Ministers have accepted the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes (ACNFP) that clearance be granted.
The UK opinion has now been forwarded to the Commission for consideration by all other Member States, before any final approval is issued.
The Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes is an independent body
of experts whose remit is:
"To advise Health and Agriculture Ministers of Great Britain and the Heads of Departments of Health and Social Services and Agriculture for Northern Ireland on any matters relating to the irradiation of food or to the manufacture of novel foods or foods produced by novel processes, having regard where appropriate to the views of relevant expert bodies."
The Committee is a voluntary body comprising a Chairman and Members appointed for their personal expertise and not to represent particular interests. The Committee's main task is to examine food safety aspects of novel foods and foods subject to novel processes and advise Ministers accordingly.
EC Regulation 258/97 was implemented on 15 May 1997 and introduced a pre-market approval system for all novel foods. Under this Regulation, a company makes an application to the Member State in which they first intend to market the novel food. This Member State has 90 days to form an initial opinion, which is then forwarded to all other Member States, who then have a period of 60 days to consider this initial opinion.
Cereal fractions are obtained from cereal brans already used as food and they are intended to be used to replace fat in a range of manufactured foods and as a source of fibre. Genetic modification processes are not involved in the production of the cereal fractions. They are considered to be novel foods because the fractions may behave differently when isolated from the parent food. The ACNFP has assessed the application submitted to the UK as the initial Competent Authority and has recommended approval. Ministers have accepted this recommendation and have agreed that the ACNFP opinion should be forwarded via the European Commission to other Member States, who will then have a period of 60 days to consider this initial opinion. If there are no objections, then the approval will be granted. If other Member States do raise scientific objections, then the application will be referred to the EC Scientific Committee for Food for their consideration.