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The evolving regulatory framework for alternative protein sources

corresponding

KATIA MERTEN-LENTZ
Keller & Heckman, Brussels, Belgium

Abstract

New products developed by food business operators to meet the growing demand for alternative protein sources, such as algae-based foods, are also likely to fall into the scope of the EU Novel Food set of rules, which establishes a presumption of noxiousness and requires a premarket authorization for these specific foods. However, since 1 January 2018, the new Regulation (EU) No 2015/2283 on novel foods has applied within EU and significantly differs from its predecessor, which was full of restrictions. Even if the premarket authorization is still required and the EU definition of novel food is clarified and now clearly includes various novel alternative protein sources, such as in vitro meat or whole insects, it also equips operators with new tools, which are likely to facilitate food innovation.


The importance of proteins in daily diet is now widely recognized around the world. Foods from animal origin - naming meat, fish, eggs and dairy products, are the main sources of protein in the European daily diet. Nevertheless, their consumption in high amount is becoming increasingly controversial, for various reasons, including the environmental footprint of animal products, the lack of food for the growing global population, the health effects of animal protein intakes and the growing concern for animal welfare. 

All these interests take consumers to opt for a new diet style, composed of alternative protein sources, which is to say food providing a substantial amount of proteins, while it requires less natural inputs than other most common protein sources. Consequently, food business operators increasingly develop new alternative protein sources, either keeping animal derived-proteins, but from other origin than traditional farming, such as insects or in vitro meat.  Or they heading towards plant proteins based on vegetables and microorganisms, like algae extracts. Elaboration of ...




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