On 10 June 2015, the European Union (EU) Council (comprised of the member states) approved a final compromise text on new EU rules for novel foods. Novel foods are foods not consumed in the EU to a significant degree before May 1997. They include for instance foods to which a new production process is applied.

The Council intends to make the placing of novel foods on the EU market faster and cheaper while preserving a high level of protection of human healthThe Council’s compromise proposal would help to reduce administrative burdens by switching to a centralized EU-level procedure and providing for generic authorizations. This means that once authorized and added to the EU list a novel food could be placed on the market by any food business operator. This would avoid the re-submission of new applications by other companies for the same novel food and should benefit in particular small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Under the current rules, novel foods are authorized at national level and valid only for the applicant.

The new rules would also facilitate the access to the EU market for traditional foods from third countries having a history of safe food use. For these foods an applicant would have to demonstrate that they have been safely used in a third country for at least 25 years.

The scope of the novel food rules would explicitly cover engineered nanomaterials. The European Commission would be mandated to adapt the definition of engineered nanomaterials to technical progress or the definitions agreed at international level.

The scope of the novel food rules would also explicitly cover food from cloned animals, until specific rules on food from cloned animals enter into force.

The European Parliament is expected to consider and vote on the Council’s compromise text in the week starting on July 4, 2015.