General

Terms of Reference

Last updated: 24 August 2020

Purpose

To advise the Food Standards Agency on any matters relating to novel foods, traditional novel foods, genetically modified foods and novel food processes including food irradiation, having regard where appropriate to the views of relevant expert bodies.

To advise the Food Standards Agency on selected matters where the expert advice of the Committee is requested.

The primary role of the Advisory Committee Novel Food & Processes (ACNFP) is the safety assessment of notifications of novel and traditional foods under regulation (EU)2015/2283.

Under Regulation (EU) 2015/2283 a novel food is defined as a food that does not have a significant history of consumption within the European Union before 15 May 1997. This definition includes traditional foods from third countries. Such foods are subject to a pre-market safety assessment before a decision is made on EU wide authorisations.

Therefore, a company planning to market a traditional novel food must submit a notification to the European Commission via an e-portal who forwards it on to all Member States (including the UK). Within four months, a Member State or the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) may submit duly reasoned safety objections on placing the traditional food on the market. If no objections are raised, the food can be marketed. If objections are raised, the applicant may transform the notification into an application, for which a safety evaluation will be requested from EFSA.

Please note that this notification process will be changing as of January 2020 when the EU-Exit transition period ends. The above details reflect the current position of handling notifications.

Role and Responsibility

It is the role of the ACNFP to carry out the safety assessment of traditional novel food notifications. Concerns are usually raised if there is a lack of information or there is a clear safety concern.  The ACNFP's advice is shared with FSA risk managers to inform if objections are raised and a further assessment of the identified risk is needed.

The Committee meets approximately six times a year for formal meetings and workshops, where they review dossiers and briefing papers on the submitted notifications.

The ACNFP is supported in its work by a secretariat provided by the Food Standards Agency. The secretariat has scientific expertise that enables them to provide Members with comprehensive background information and briefing papers on the traditional food notification that inform the decision-making processes of the Committee.

Membership

The Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Process (ACNFP) comprises of one Chair and sixteen members.

Members are recruited by open competition. The Committee is made up of a range experts, covering a range of scientific disciplines, as well as consumer representation who provide insight, advice and the technical knowledge needed to evaluate the safety of novel food applications.

The normal duration of appointment for an ACNFP member is three years and for the Chair five years.  Members and Chairs will normally not serve for longer than 10 years continuously.

The ACNFP is also able to identify and to draw in wider expertise and inputs across relevant disciplines and perspectives to address the issues at hand.

Independence and transparency

The ACNFP is an independent SAC which operates to the highest standards of openness and transparency. It will work in accordance with guidelines by the FSA and relevant guidance and rules established across Government for the operation of Scientific Advisory Committees. These include:

Key elements of practice which underpin and assure this include:

  • ACNFP meeting agendas, papers, minutes and reports are published.
  • The ACNFP publishes an annual report and the ACNFP Chair will report to the FSA Board annually at an open Board meeting.
  • The ACNFP Chair has the right of direct access to the FSA’s CSA and Chief Executive (CE), and to FSA Board members (via the Agency Chair), at all times. Members also have the right of access to the CSA, the CE and Board on any matter which they believe raises important issues relating to their duties as a member.
  • In addition to regular contact between meetings, the ACNFP Chair and FSA CSA will meet for a feedback discussion each year to review the work of the Committee against its remit, and the relationship with and support from the FSA.
  • The ACNFP Chair will meet the FSA Chair annually to discuss the work of the ACNFP.

The ACNFP is supported by a Secretariat provided by the FSA.

Resources and Budget

The ACNFP is supported by a Secretariat provided by the Food Standards Agency.  

The Secretariat is led by a Secretary who is responsible for the work of the Secretariat and a lead Secretariat who manages overall workflow.

The Committee has no independent budget or expenditure. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) covers the costs for the operation of the Committee (including secretariat support, member’s fees and expenses, and administrative costs for meetings and events). These are recorded formally in the accounts of the FSA.

The budget for the Food Standards Agency is agreed every year by the FSA Business Committee.