Innovative food and feed processing technologies – Which legal framework for the use of new technologies in food and feed areas?


partner Keller and Heckman LLP, Belgium


Within the European Union, food and feed law does not focus on novel technologies, but on the final products, obtained by those new production processes. Innovation through new technologies in the agri-food industry mainly requires a pre-market authorization of the final products, delivered by the European Commission, after a safety assessment made by the European Food Safety Authority. These legal procedures apply to both novel and genetically modified foods or food ingredients, but only to GM feeds, as there is no comparison to novel food procedure in the feed area, where only feed additives must be authorized.


Novel technologies in the food area were first developed to improve preservation of foods, like Appert’s caning process, or pasteurization, developed by Louis Pasteur during the XIX’s century. Even though these ‘traditional’ (at least under today’s scale) processing technologies are well accepted by the European consumers, more recent technologies raise suspicion on the potential risks that they may cause. Probably the most telling example is the genetic modification technology, which has had trouble entering the EU market. But in the same time, novel technologies are a precious tool for food industries, in their quest to meet consumers’ expectations, more and more demanding regarding product they ingest: same sweet or salted taste but without sugar or salt, more environmentally friendly, containing alternatives to animal proteins, safer and safer…


The European legal framework, especially the emblematic 2015 novel food regulation, (1) aims to ease and encourage food innovation, while ensuring the absence of harmful effects. However, when it regards innovation in the feed area, the European legislation is quite poor ...