Did you know that if you treat apple cider with ultraviolet light, it becomes a novel food? Once it is categorised, it requires further approval from the EU Commission and EFSA before being marketed.
Novel foods and nutritional function, in general, are the subjects of many discussions these days. We all want to know what type of innovation these foods bring and what the hype is all about.
To demystify the concepts of novel and functional foods and their nutritive value, we’ll address one of the newest additions to the novel food category – CBD products.
You might wonder why anyone would need to define food. It’s pretty much anything edible, whether it’s something considered super healthy or not.
But, the EU took a while to produce a comprehensive definition of food. In 2002, the European Commission described the food as any substance, processed, partially processed, or unprocessed, that can be used for human consumption.
Basically, both carrots and chewing gum are considered foods. This classification between foods and non-foods is essential because foods must be safe for human consumption.
The 3 Functions of Food
Before we go into more details about the novel and functional foods, we also must look at all the functions foods have. The first, and unquestionably most important, is connected to nutrition.
Namely, the primary purpose of food is to provide human beings with essential nutrients. Secondly, food is also taken for pleasure as people enjoy eating in social situations.
Finally, the least important function of food is to provide additional value or health benefits to specific foods. Novel foods and functional foods cover this aspect.
What Are Functional Foods?
Functional foods typically come with specific bioactive compounds that aim to improve the existing benefits of types of food. Some examples of functional foods are eggs with Omega-3 fatty acids or calcium-enriched orange juice.
You can consider cereals with fortified vitamins as functional foods too. As you’re probably aware these products are immensely popular, but the claimed benefits should always be taken with a grain of salt.
What Are Novel Foods?
Novel foods have a lot of common ground with functional foods but are not the same thing, for example, genetically modified foods fall into the category of novel food.
However, specific foods that underwent a processing method not previously associated with food also fits into the novel food category.
Finally, food considered unsafe for consumption and has been adequately regulated would also fit into the description of novel foods.
All foods and ingredients that were not widely used before May 1997 need to be approved by the EU Commission.
Is CBD a Novel Food?
When talking about foods that were legally considered unsafe for consumption, CBD comes to mind. Nowadays CBD products are everywhere, which is in many ways a fantastic thing. But it’s easy to forget that it’s still not fully regulated.
As of January 2021, CBD has officially been classified as a novel food in the EU. However, that doesn’t automatically mean that every CBD product has become safe for consumption overnight.
On the contrary, each CBD manufacturer will have to seek approval for each of their CBD products before putting it on the market.
The authorisation process aims to ensure that novel foods and nutritional function they carry are at the highest level.
But most importantly, that it’s safe for human consumption. The problem with CBD and regulation is twofold. First, CBD brands must ensure that their products are THC free.
For CBD to be considered a novel food, it cannot have any psychoactive effects. The other issue revolves around the purity of CBD oil and other ingredients.
CBD products are mixed with oils, vitamins, minerals, and supplements. These must also be considered safe before offered to the public.
Novel Foods and All That They Bring
We might not realise that the potatoes or courgettes we eat are novel foods. Unless they’re organic, they’ve likely gone through a GMO treatment, hence are novel foods. If you eat meat cooked under hydrostatic pressure, you are also consuming a novel food.
With CBD, the best course of action is to purchase products from reliable brands and make sure that they have complied with all regulations. When it comes to novel foods and nutritional function, regulation matters a lot.