Chia seed:The Chia Company. EC No. 131

May 2011: Application from The Chia Company (Australia), to extend the authorisation of Chia seeds (Salvia hispanica L) under the Novel Food Regulation (EC) 258/97. Authorised January 2013

Background

The Chia Company has previously claimed equivalence to the authorised chia seeds and can currently market its seeds at levels of up to 5% in bread products. This application is to extend the approval to enable their chia seeds in a number of additional food categories (baked goods, breakfast cereals and fruit nut and seed mixes). 

Chia (Salvia hispanica L) is a summer annual herbaceous plant belonging to the mint family. Historically, chia seeds have been eaten in South America, but they have not been consumed to a significant degree in Europe.

Legal Background

Before a novel food can be marketed legally in EU it requires a pre-market safety assessment under the Novel Food Regulation (EU) 2015/2283, previously 258/97 (EC). This is the Regulation establishes the legal basis for novel foods and the process for submitting a novel food authorisation(s).

One of the major changes under the revised Regulation, was the centralisation of the authorisation process at the EU level. Prior to this, applications for new novel foods were underwent initial assessment in a Member State to achieve an EU wide authorisation. This application was received by the UK under Regulation 258/97 EC and was assessed by our independent experts the Advisory Committee on novel foods and processes.

Application Status

On 14 April 2011 The Chia Company made a request for an extension of use of Chia seed on the market as a novel food ingredient. In particular, they asked to use up to 10 % Chia seed in certain food categories and to sell prepacked Chia seed with a recommended daily intake of up to 15 g. 

The ACNFP reviewed the dossier concluding that it met the requirements under the regulation. Namely that it is safe, not misleading and would not put consumers as a nutritional disadvantage. This ultimately resulted in the product being authorised by the EU subject to the conditions specified in the authorisation in the Commission Implementing Decision 2013/50/EU.