UK’s Novel Foods regulation reviewed to ensure it keeps up with innovation

21 July, 2023

The UK’s Novel Foods Regulatory Framework was recently reviewed, in a project commissioned by the Food Standards Agency (FSA). The FSA acknowledged that the current regulatory framework may need to be updated in order keep up with the fast-paced novel food environment, emerging innovations and challenges. If the recommended changes are taken on board to improve and streamline the framework, the UK’s innovation process would not only be accelerated, launching novel ingredients and technologies into the market quicker, but could also provide clear and robust support for nascent start-up companies, who typically need more regulatory guidance. However, any changes to the framework could potentially create divergence from the European Union’s established process, something which needs to be considered.


Aim of the Novel Foods Regulatory Framework review

The aim of the review was to understand the effectiveness of the current process. It also aimed to identify ways to change, improve and comprehend the consequences and future opportunities of prospective models which, when implemented, should in theory promote the submission of high-quality and regulatory-compliant dossiers as well as eliminate multiple rounds of processing, minimise administrative efforts and mitigate delays.

The assessment report involved engagement with international regulatory bodies and food business operators to identify key learnings and pain points.

Five different models have been proposed, which can be used alone or combine elements from each, and should in theory provide applicants with:

  • Clear guidance for nascent companies who may not have experienced regulatory compliance staff
  • An updated position on definitions and requirements for safety, which takes into account the evolving industry’s needs
  • The opportunity to present a balance between risks and benefits, as opposed to risks only, enabling wider societal benefits (such as sustainability and carbon footprint) to be considered in the application process

The five models proposed as part of the review aim to provide the FSA with tools which:

  • Streamline the review and authorisation process without compromising food safety
  • Improve accessibility, transparency and information around the framework

What’s next in the review process?

The whole Novel Foods Regulatory Framework needs to be reviewed by FSA and the government, as well as go for public consultation, before any changes can be implemented.

Perhaps the biggest potential benefit of any reform is that the UK becomes a business-friendlier launch pad for novel foods and technologies due to a more streamlined and pragmatic approach, and a faster approval process.


Keeping informed

It is crucial for food business operators to keep an eye on developments in order to prepare for any upcoming changes.

Leatherhead Food Research’s Global Regulatory team will continue to update Members of potential changes to the UK’s Novel Foods Regulatory Framework through its Global Legal Highlights newsletter.

Follow the link for further information on novel food dossiers and get in touch at [email protected] if you have any questions about the UK Novel Foods Regulatory Framework review, or preparing and submitting regulatory-compliant dossiers in the UK, EU and US.

How can we help?

By submitting your details you agree to us holding the personal data you've supplied for the purpose of processing your enquiry. For information about how we handle your data, please read our privacy policy