Unauthorised novel foods on sale across UK

By Rick Pendrous

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Acacia Novel foods and processes

Health risk? Many unauthorised novel foods, which could present a health risk to consumers, may on sale across the UK
Health risk? Many unauthorised novel foods, which could present a health risk to consumers, may on sale across the UK
Many unauthorised novel foods, which could present a health risk to consumers, are feared to be on sale across the UK without the knowledge of the regulatory authorities, bringing into question the effectiveness of the approvals process and its enforcement.

The news emerged at a workshop in London last month organised by the Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes (ACNFP), which is responsible for authorising novel foods in the UK and advises the Food Standards Agency (FSA). Several workshop delegates and ACNFP members expressed concerns about the presence of novel foods on the market that had not undergone the required authorisation process.

ACNFP committee member Clare Mills, Professor of molecular allergology at the School of Translational Medicine, University of Manchester, told our sister title Food Manufacture​ she was particularly concerned about the availability of unauthorised novel foods on sale in small retail stores across the country.

‘Serious allergy risks’

Mills feared that some of these foods contained ingredients from south-east Asia, for example, that could pose serious allergy risks to second generation ethnic groups and others who do not have a natural resistance to them.

The presence of unauthorised novel foods on the market was also an issue of concern to fellow ACNFP member Professor Harry McArdle, director of science at the Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health at the University of Aberdeen.

Since October 2013 the FSA has published information about potential unauthorised novel foods when made aware they may be on the UK market illegally. However, because of limited resources within local authorities – and Trading Standards, in particular – the availability of unauthorised products for sale to consumers is believed to be widespread.

Weight loss supplements

While the FSA is currently reviewing several products that have been discovered on sale without approval, notably weight loss supplements acacia rigidula (also known as blackbrush acacia) and raspberry ketones, plus mesquite (prosopis pallida), which is found in South American meal flour, the fear is that many small manufacturers and retailers are either unaware of the need to win approval – or ignoring the requirement – before putting products on sale.

A quick search on the internet shows that many products containing these banned ingredients are readily available for sale to consumers in the UK today.

Although several delegates to the ACNFP workshop said they had removed raspberry ketones from sale immediately they discovered they were unapproved, they said they knew of other small firms still selling these products.

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