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Food Chem Toxicol. 1996 Oct;34(10):931-40.

The safety assessment of novel foods. Guidelines prepared by ILSI Europe Novel Food Task Force.

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Wayborough Bungalow, Minster, Ramsgate, Kent, UK.


The diversity of novel foods and novel ingredients covered by the scope of the EU regulation is such that a check list approach to safety evaluation is inappropriate. Rather, a case-by-case approach is required taking into account the composition of the novel food, its intake, its role in the diet and the intended target group. The SAFEST approach provides a means of targeting the safety evaluation on those aspects, nutritional or toxicological, of a novel food which are of particular concern. Using this approach, novel foods are assigned to one of three classes on the basis of certain background information. For those novel foods which can be shown to be in SAFEST class 1, namely those which are substantially equivalent to a traditional counterpart, no further information is required to demonstrate their safety. For those novel foods in SAFEST class 2, i.e. those sufficiently similar to a traditional counterpart or differing from it only in particular, well defined, characteristics, the evaluation will focus on those differences. Only in the case of novel foods which are not in class 1 or class 2 is extensive testing of the whole food likely to be required. Even in these cases, the testing should follow a scientifically-based hierarchical approach involving: literature reviews; chemical analysis; appropriate in vitro and in vivo tests; and, if necessary, confirmation of safety and nutritional value in humans. Examination of the causes of any adverse effects reported by consumers after the novel food or ingredient has been approved and is introduced into the market may provide additional reassurance of safety.

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