Justification of the non-novel food character of each plant extract

Nutraveris
Photo by Mari Helin on Unsplash

Recently in Europe, many discussions recall the need to be able to justify the non-novel food character of each plant extract used in food supplements.

On 27 May 2022, the Italian Authorities published a circular on “Indications on the use of plants and their parts in food supplements to ensure the safety and protection of citizens”, which recalls some principles which must be carefully followed by the actors involved in all the phases that lead to the marketing of food supplements.

The authorities recall in particular that it is the responsibility of the operator to assess the status of its ingredient in relation to the Novel Food Regulation.

  • A supplier’s declaration is not considered sufficient to attest to the non-Novel Food character.
  • The plants and parts of plants listed in the Italian decree of 10 August 2018 have a significant history of consumption and can be used in food supplements. Nevertheless, plant preparations and extracts derived from them must have a significant history of consumption based on data collected by the operator. 
  • Plant preparations and extracts must have levels of active substances comparable to the levels that can be obtained with traditional methods of preparation so as not to fall within the scope of the Novel Food Regulation.

This reminder is in line with some recent additions to the Novel Food Catalogue following discussions between Member States:

  • In March 2022: Seeds of Griffonia simplicifolia used only as or in food supplements before 15 May 1997 (possible national restrictions). The use of selective extract of 5-HTP from Griffonia simplicifolia seeds is considered as novel food.
  • In June 2022: Curcuminoids from turmeric extract of the rhizome of Curcuma longa L. used only as or in food supplements before 15 May 1997 (possible national restrictions). The dried rhizome of Curcuma longa may contain different curcuminoids, of which the main constituents are curcumin, demethoxycurcumin and bisdemethoxycurcumin. Any process that enhances the solubility or bioavailability might however be subject to the novel food regulation.
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