UK company Nutrisure has asked the UK Food Standards Agency’s expert advisers on novel foods to consider an application and an opinion for chia seeds to be approved for use in the European Union (EU) under the simplified approval procedure. Views were sought on the application and the independent experts’ draft opinion in December.

Nutrisure 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 European 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.

If approved, the applicant’s chia seeds will be used in bread and bread products, breakfast cereal, fruit, nut and seed mixes and 100% packaged chia seeds. Approval was granted for The Chia Company’s seeds to be used in these products earlier this year.

A novel food is a food or food ingredient that does not have a significant history of consumption within the European Union before 15 May 1997.