Have you found an interesting ingredient overseas to use in your product? Or perhaps you are looking to import a food product? That’s great! There are many opportunities to introduce new flavours, textures and colours to Australia and New Zealand’s broad base of food consumers.
Many botanicals are now being explored as useful food ingredients for their health benefits. There are just a few things to consider first…
Is your ingredient a ‘novel’ food?
FSANZ must assess ‘novel’ foods before they can be sold as food or added as food ingredients in Australia or New Zealand (Standard 1.5.1 – Novel foods). First a couple of definitions:
A ‘novel food’ is defined in the Standard as a ‘non-traditional food that requires an assessment of the public health and safety considerations.’ Further, ‘non-traditional food‘ is broadly defined as a food/substance that does not have an established pattern or history of consumption in Australia or New Zealand (1).
For example, Lion’s Mane powder extract (Hericium erinaceus) is a type of mushroom. The Advisory Committee on Novel Foods (ACNF) determined that this mushroom species is both a non-traditional food and a novel food, HOWEVER, there is insufficient evidence for its safe use and consumption meaning that it cannot be added to the food supply at this time as a food product nor an ingredient to a food product (2).
On the other hand, Yuzu (Citrus Junos Siebold ex Tanaka), a citrus ingredient from Japan, while a non-traditional food in Australia and New Zealand, was not considered novel and given its safe use in Japan, it can now be widely found in food and beverage products in Australia and New Zealand (and it is delicious!) (2).
Would your ingredient be considered therapeutic?
If you are looking at a particular ingredient beyond flavour and texture, and more for its health benefits, are these general health benefits or something more? If the ingredient claims to reduce inflammation or cure cancer, for example, these are therapeutic claims.
Alpinia galanga extract, a type of ginger (but in concentrated, extracted form) and Hovenia dulcis (Oriental raisin tree) extract have both been recently been determined by the ACNF to be non-traditional, novel foods (2). Additionally, the ACNF noted that these ingredients may be more appropriately regarded as therapeutic goods which are regulated by the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and the New Zealand Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Authority (Medsafe). The ACNF advice is based on some of the heath claims that are associated with these ingredients.
If your ingredient is more therapeutic in nature, then it must be first assessed and approved by the relevant authority (TGA or Medsafe) where you want to sell the product.
Where to from here?
There are so many unique ingredients out there to explore and introduce Australian consumers to but be sure to do your homework first (e.g. Is the ingredient safe? Is it being used in a concentrated form? Has it been assessed as novel? Is it more therapeutic? etc.) This will save you time, regulatory headaches and money down the track!
There are also opportunities to have exclusive use of a novel ingredient for 15 months on application to FSANZ. So, if you have invested in ingredient development or are first to market, there are definite advantages to investigating an ingredient’s ‘novel’ status.
Contact Michelle at Food Envy Labelling if you would like to know more about ingredient assessment. I would be happy to discuss the opportunities with you!
If you need any specific guidance on Australian food labelling requirements or health claims your product could make, please feel free to contact me. I am here to help.
- Australian Government. Food Standards Australia New Zealand Act 1991 (Cth) Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code – Standard 1.5.1 – Novel Foods F2017C00324 [Legislation]. Canberra, ACT: Australian Government; 2017 [updated 2017 Apr 13; cited 2022 Feb 18]. Available from: https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2017C00324.
- Australian Government. Food Standards Australia New Zealand – Record of views formed in response to inquiries. Canberra, ACT: Australian Government; 2021 [updated 2021 Dec; cited 2022 Feb 18]. Available from: https://www.foodstandards.gov.au/industry/novel/novelrecs/Documents/Record%20of%20views%20updated%20December%202021.pdf.