The EFSA Panel on Nutrition, Novel foods and Food Allergens (NDA) just published a scientific opinion on chia seeds (Salvia hispanica L.) powders as novel foods (NFs) pursuant to Regulation (EU) 2015/2283. According to the EFSA panel, the partially defatted powders of whole chia seeds are considered safe under the assessed conditions of use.

The safety assessment was conducted for two chia protein powders, ‘Xia 125’ and ‘Xia 435’. Both were obtained from extruded chia seeds. The main differences between the two powders concern the particle sizes and the content of some macronutrients (protein, fact and dietary fiber). Both chia powders are proposed to be marketed as food supplements for the general population (up to 7.5 and 12 g/day, respectively) and as ingredients in a variety of foods. The proposed maximum use levels range from 0.7% to 10% in fortified foods.

At this point you might ask yourself, why do Chia seed protein powder (isolates) need a EFSA safety assessment? As you may be aware, chia seeds are authorized as novel foods for a variety of food uses. So why can’t their protein isolates (or fractions) be used in foods without a safety assessment? Here, it is important to understand a key point from the current novel food regulation.

Isolating fractions from established foods, or modifying their structure by applying new technologies/processes might render the resulting products novel foods, meaning they need a novel food authorization. This is independent on the food source being a novel food itself or being a established food in the EU. In line with this are the several recent decisions on Article 4 consultation requests at the Commission level such as Mung bean protein isolate, rhamnogalacturonan-rich pectin hydrolysate or casein hydrolysate containing elevated levels of the tri-peptides. All these foods are considered novel when used as or in foods. They will need a novel food authorization before they can be placed on the market.

If you are unsure if your product is considered novel please get in touch. Our novel food experts will be happy to help.