Views wanted on Chia seeds by 19 July 2017

Last updated:
29 June 2017
A company has applied to the FSA for chia seeds to be approved for use in the European Union (EU) under the simplified approval procedure. The FSA will present the company’s application dossier to the independent expert committee and views are wanted on the dossier.

The simplified approval procedure and 'equivalence'

The company, BetterBody Foods, is requesting an opinion from the FSA on the 'equivalence' of its chia seeds, which are grown in particular regions of South America, with the chia seeds marketed by The Chia Company that are grown in Australia.

The European Novel Foods Regulation includes a simplified approval procedure for when a company believes its novel food is substantially equivalent to a food that is already on the market. In such a situation, the applicant can submit a notification to the European Commission after obtaining an opinion on equivalence from an EU member state – in this case the UK.

More about Chia

Chia is a summer annual herbaceous plant belonging to the mint 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 chia 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 for The Chia Company’s seeds (bread products, breakfast cereal, fruit, nut and seed mixes and bread and 100% packaged chia seeds).

About novel foods

A novel food is a food or food ingredient that does not have a significant history of consumption within the European Union before 15 May 1997.

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 the Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes (ACNFP), an independent committee of scientists appointed by the FSA.

Deadline for comments

Comments on this application are requested from the public to assist in informing the committee. Any comments on this application should be emailed to the ACNFP secretariat at acnfp@foodstandards.gsi.gov.uk by 19 July 2017 and will be passed to the committee to assist in informing its assessment of this novel food ingredient.