What is novel food?

What is novel food? Let’s start with the word Novel. Novel does not only mean new,
novel also describes something that is unusual,
unconventional or innovative and Novel implies a timestamp. Something is new, or Novel
when you first encounter it. Over time we get used
to the novelty and we consider it as conventional and normal. In the European Union,
we consider food as Novel when it has not been consumed
much before May 1997. So here we have our timestamp. Throughout history, we have added
new types of food to our diets. Maize, potatoes, tomatoes they all
originate from North and South America. Rice and Noodles are now staples
of our diet, both came from Asia. Enjoying a cup of coffee? Well, coffee originates from East Africa and
reached Europe via North Africa and the Near East. The list of foods that started out as
Novel Foods and which we now consume regularly has become endless over the centuries. More recent arrivals in Europe are foods
such as Chia seeds and Quinoa grain from South America, or Baobab fruit from Africa. And what about insects? Crickets, larva or insect eggs are part
of the normal diet elsewhere in the world, where they are considered traditional foods. There is increasing interest in introducing
insects to the European market. But there are also
other types of Novel Foods, like substances which are added
to change certain properties of food. Take for instance the substance
that makes chewing gum less sticky. It’s reduced adhesive properties could make
it much easier to remove them from any surface. Novel Foods also include foods produced with
new methods, that change their characteristics. Think of how people invented
drying or smoking, to preserve food. Sometimes new sources of known food components
are discovered, which we consider Novel Foods. A recent example is krill,
a new source of omega 3 fatty acids, which we consume already from other sources. Before we as consumers can enjoy any Novel Food,
we want to be sure that it’s safe. Therefore, all Novel Foods have to
undergo a safety assessment. Also, traditional foods from countries outside
of The EU have to be assessed for their safety. Before they can be traded in The EU,
we need to know that these foods have been consumed safely,
over at least 25 years. The world is full of diversity and so
Novel Foods will continue to come to our tables, providing new choices
and new sources of nutrients.

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