Novel Foods

Information about novel foods and how these are regulated 

What are novel foods?

Novel foods are foods that can be described as not having a ‘significant history of consumption’ before 15 May 1997 and these need to be authorised by the European Commission, following a safety evaluation carried out by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). Scottish businesses are responsible for ensuring their food is safe and complies with the law.

Examples of novel foods are:

  • foods containing novel ingredients such as cannabidiol (CBD) 
  • new foods such as spreads with dietary additions to reduce cholesterol
  • traditional foods eaten elsewhere in the world such as chia seeds
  • foods produced using novel treatments such as UV-light to increase Vitamin D in bread

Novel foods have to be assessed for safety, authorised and approved under the Novel Food Regulations before they can be placed on the market in the EU. This applies to all food that has not been used to a significant degree before 15 May 1997, when the first regulation on novel food came into force.

Visit the Business & Industry section for information about the authorisation process for Novel Foods.

The legislation is enforced by Scottish local authorities, so if you have any concerns about food products being sold in your area you can contact your local authority.