The FSA has commissioned a report by accountants Deloitte, on the structure of approving novel foods in the UK that has put forward a “radical reimagining of the Novel Foods Regulatory Framework”. future_of_food_2022_consumer_deloitte_be_report_en.pdf
The novel food approval system is currently generally viewed as an obstacle to innovation.
The report puts forward various options to allow environmental and food security benefits to be reaped from novel food approvals.
An option flagged by the report suggests allowing alternative proteins to go on sale in the UK without the usual prolonged approvals process for novel foods, if they have been lawfully sold in other parts of the world.
Another option is that the UK should adopt a system of “collaborative regulation” under which, instead of the existing approvals process which can take years, the FSA would authorise novel foods to be sold using the evidence base or decisions of food regulators in other countries.
The placing of responsibility on the food industry to assure safety would move towards a conditional authorisation and supervision model similar to that used in other sectors such as the pharmaceuticals industry.
Another option would be to adopt a risk based approach whereby the FSA focuses more time on approvals for potential “high risk” foods and fast-tracking “lower risk” products.
The FSA has stated it is committed to supporting innovation as well as safety. The risk based approach is now embedded in revised Codes of Practice. It looks likely this approach will be rolled out across all regulatory approaches and this should be beneficial to innovation rather than the current impasse. The approach and different options will be discussed at the FSA Board Meeting on 21 June FSA Board Meetings | Food Standards Agency .
The approach of risk assessment would certainly be beneficial to the CBD food sector, edible insects and cultured meat where industry development has stalled in recent years. The priority given to agritech and gene editing should equally be spread to the whole novel food and novel processes sector.
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