FSA evaluates chia seeds as novel food

The company Andean Grain Products Ltd, is requesting an opinion from the FSA on the ‘equivalence’ of their 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 EU 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.

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 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 last year for the Chia Company’s seeds (bread products, breakfast cereal, fruit, nut and seed mixes and bread and 100% packaged chia seeds).

Any comments on this application should be emailed to the ACNFP secretariat atacnfp@foodstandards.gsi.gov.uk by Friday 2 May 2014.

(Source: FSA website)

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