EIHA Novel Food Consortium
The EIHA Novel Food Consortium
Definition of ‘Novel Food’
The first Novel Food regulation was introduced in 1997 by Regulation (EU) 258/97 with the aim of establishing a food safety mechanism to control newly developed, synthetic or genetically produced food. An updated version of the regulation came into force on 1st January 2018 (Regulation (EU) 2015/2283).
According to art. 3, ‘novel food’ is:
“any food that was not used for human consumption to a significant degree within the Union before 15 May 1997”.
If a food is considered novel, it must be authorised by the EU Commission and undergo a pre-market safety assessment by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), before it can be legally marketed in the EU.
The Novel Food Catalogue serves as a non-legally binding orientation on whether a product (of animal and plant origin, as well as other substances) will need an authorisation under the Novel Food Regulation. The Novel Food Catalogue reflects the opinion of the Member States …
Want to know more? Keep reading! All you need to know about the NF Consortium
Verb “extrahere” derives from latin and it means to draw out or to remove. It concerns any method that uses a solid, liquid or gaseous extraction agent to remove one or several components from a substance mixture (of solid, liquid or gaseous substances). Most of us consume an extracts on a daily as many of us drink coffee. On that basis a correct sentence would be “Would you like a coffee extract?”.
Cannabinoids (the most abundant of which is CBD) are naturally occurring components of the industrial hemp pant (>0.2% THC in the seeds) and are extracted using four traditional methods. CBD is non psychotropic, non-intoxicating, not addictive, very well tolerated by humans even in large doses. Most important, according to EIHA research hemp extracts have been consumed by people for many centuries.
Consumers are interested in health promoting hemp extracts in foods and it is a sought after ingredient in cosmetics.
All food ingredients, including Hemp extracts, are regulated by a EU Catalogue on Novel Food, however this is not a binding document for Member States. As per EU definition, a Novel Food is a food that have not been consumed to a significant degree before 15 of May 1997.
Historic evidence confirms that hemp extracts rich in cannabinoids (including CBD) were part of our diet for many centuries. The EIHA position remains that whole plant hemp extracts are not Novel Food.
Without industry consultation, the change of wording in January 2019 to the Novel Food Catalogue resulted in many negative consequences for the European industrial hemp sector. Even though hemp extracts are not formally nor legally forbidden by Europe, disproportionate and unjustified measures have been taken in relation to food products containing CBD in many European states.
The entry of Cannabis sativa L was also fundamentally changed, stating that only below products are food:
- only seed derived products are considered food,
- leaves and flowers are now considered not explicitly exempted from the scope of Novel Food (Regulation (EU) 2015/2283) which has moved them from previously foods into a ‘grey zone’,
- a new entry, called Cannabinoids, was created which now states that all hemp extracts are novel food.
This unnecessary, illogical and illicit change of the former Novel Food entry is unacceptable for EIHA members and the entire European hemp industry. Back in 1998, the hemp industry received written confirmation from the EU (PAFF Standing Committee) that hemp flowers/leaves are permitted for food use, because hemp has been in the human food chain for millennia and it is disingenuous to argue that leaves and flowers in food are novel today. Based on this decision, FBOs made investments in the hemp sector that should be paid-back today instead of being hindered by governments and decision-makers across Europe. Why is a food that was confirmed lawful 20 years ago, suddenly no longer legal today?
EIHA reiterate that CBD is a naturally occurring component of the hemp plant that has been extracted and used in the human diet for centuries. Therefore the position of EIHA is that leaves, flowers and hemp extracts are food, which means no authorisation is required to market hemp derived products. This approach only refers to natural food products in which the amount of Cannabidiol (CBD) does not exceed the natural amount present in the plant which was the guidelines as per the previous Novel Food catalogue entry and valid for years up to January 20th, 2019.
EIHA is currently closely working with Members States and the Commission to find a workable solution to this key issue. #UnlockTheFlower