Chia seed: Compañía Inversora Agropecuaria

April 2013: Application from Inversora Agropecuaria for an opinion on equivalence of chia seeds compared with chia seeds marketed by The Chia Company. Under evaluation.

Chia is a summer annual herbaceous plant belonging to the Labiatae family. It grows from a seedling to develop lush green foliage before it produces long flowers which are either purple or, less commonly white. These flowers develop into seed pods to produce shia seeds. Although chia is grown commercially in several Latin American countries and Australia, the seeds have not been consumed to a significant degree in Europe.

The applicant’s chia seeds will be used in the same products as those for which approval has been granted last year for The Chia Company’s seeds (bread products, breakfast cereal, fruit, nut and seed mixes and bread and 100% packaged chia seeds). Regulation (EC) 258/97 makes provision for novel foods or ingredients that are substantially equivalent to an existing product to be placed on the market once the applicant has informed the European Commission.

In all cases to date, the Commission has required that the applicant first obtains an opinion on substantial equivalence from a member state. Inversoria Agropecuaria has requested such an opinion from the UK Competent Authority on the equivalence of their chia seeds to the authorised chia seeds marketed by The Chia Company.

The ACNFP have considered this application and have formulated a positive draft opinion. Any comments on this draft opinion should be sent to ACNFP Secretariat at acnfp@foodstandards.gsi.gov.uk by Friday 17 October 2014 and will be passed to the Committee before it finalises its assessment of this novel food ingredient.

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