What is Novel Food?


Changes are inevitable in the developing world. As time passes through, people’s thoughts and choices change. People’s eating habits can also change. A novel food is a food or food ingredient without a history of consumption because it refers to foods that have not been significantly consumed before 15 May 1997 by humans living in the EU [4].  The dictionary defines the word ‘novel’ as ‘new and original, not like anything seen before.’. It can also help us clarify the meaning of novel food. 

Foods can be referred to as a novel food if they are

  • innovative, or

  • produced by using new technologies and process of production, or

  • traditional that are not or have not been eaten inside of the EU[4].

Above is said that foods produced with new technologies and processes, and innovative foods, which are newly developed foods, are considered novel foods. Some innovative food examples are foods and food ingredients with a new or intentionally modified primary molecular structure and nutrition and food ingredients consisting of or isolated from microorganisms, fungi, or algae[2]. 

There is a point that you should pay attention to not confuse. Adding some extra nutrition(not novel ingredients) like minerals, vitamins, or fibers to food cannot be considered a process that makes food novel food. Foods formed due to this process are called functional foods, not novel foods[5]. On the other hand, microalgae usage to enhance food nutritionally is a novel food process. Microalgae can positively affect animal and human health because of its original chemical composition. With microalgae, people can design novel food enriched in carotenoids and polyunsaturated fatty acids with antioxidant effects[1]. Besides, there are foods eaten in some cultures and inedible or unfamiliar in others. They may be traditional food in those cultures. Some of these cultural foods are novel food. For example, insects are one of them[3].

The EU Commission and EFSA(European Food Safety Authority) must approve novel foods before consumption. According to The Novel Food Regulation, a novel food must meet the following conditions to market it :

  • can  be safely consumable

  • being correctly labeled

Besides, If there is an intention to replace novel food with another food, food replaced with the old one should not be having nutritional disadvantageous for the consumer[5].


CONTENT: Deniz Güngören




[1] Gouveia, L.; Batista, A.P.; Sousa, I., Raymundo, A.; Bandarra, N.M. (2008). Microalgae in novel food products. In Papadoupoulos, K.. Food Chemistry Research Developments. Nova Science Publishers. 75-112. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10400.5/2434

[2] Hermann, M. (2009). The impact of the European Novel Food Regulation on trade and food innovation based on traditional plant foods from developing countries. Food Policy. 34(6), 499-507.

[3] Tan, H.S.G., Fischer, A.R.H., van Trijp, H.C.M., Stieger, M..(2016). Tasty but nasty? Exploring the role of sensory-liking and food appropriateness in the willingness to eat unusual novel foods like insects. Food Quality and Preference. 48, 293-302. 

[4] https://ec.europa.eu/food/safety/novel_food_en

[5] https://www.tentamus.com/what-are-novel-foods/