Lentinan is a beta-glucan, which is found in various foods including legumes, cereals, tubers, fruits and mushrooms such as shiitake. This fungus is indigenous to Japan, China and other Asian countries with warm climates and is usually found growing on fallen deciduous trees.
Fresh shiitake mushroom is now produced widely in Europe and is available in most supermarkets and fresh food stores.
The applicant intends to market its lentinan-rich extract as a food supplement and food ingredient.
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). The applicant (formerly known as Medimush) previously submitted an application under the substantial equivalence route, however equivalence could not be demonstrated and a full application was subsequently submitted in February 2008.
Following an initial public consultation period and the discussion of this application by the ACNFP at its meetings in 2007 and 2008, the committee has formulated a positive initial opinion on this novel food ingredient.