Ice structuring proteins. EC No. 71

June 2006. Application from Unilever to approve an ice structuring protein preparation as a novel food ingredient. Authorised April 2009


Ice structuring proteins (ISP) are naturally occurring proteins and peptides, which are found in a variety of living organisms (such as fish, plants, insects). ISP protect them from damage to tissues in very cold conditions by lowering the temperature at which ice crystals grow and by modifying the size and shape of ice crystals. Sourcing ISP from nature is not sustainable or economically feasible.

The applicant, Unilever, therefore proposes to market a preparation of ice structuring proteins which will be obtained from the fermentation of a genetically modified food grade yeast (Saccharomyces cervisiae) in sealed vessels.

The applicant intends to use its ISP preparation in edible ices in order to influence the formation of ice structure during manufacture. The term 'edible ices' encompasses ice cream, including dairy ice cream, milk ice, water ice, fruit ice, sorbets, frozen desert and any similar products such as ice smoothies and products for which edible ice is a component. The level of ISP in edible ices will not exceed 0.01% by weight. 

Legal Backgroud

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: Authorised

Approval is sought under Novel Foods Regulation (EC) No. 258/97. Before any new food product can be introduced on the European market, it must be rigorously assessed for safety. In the UK, the assessment of novel foods is carried out by an independent committee of scientists appointed by the Food Standards Agency, the Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes (ACNFP).

Following an initial public consultation period and the discussion of this application by the ACNFP at its meetings between July 2006 and July 2007, the Committee has formulated a positive initial opinion on this ice structuring protein preparation derived from a GM baker’s yeast and a factsheet explaining the assessment of this novel food ingredient. In April 2009 Unilever was granted authorisation to market Ice Structuring Protein type III HPLC 12 in the EU by Commission Decision 2009/344/EC.

Application Files