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Food and Health E-ssentials

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EU Commission officially extends approved use of chia seeds as novel food

The Commission of the European Union (EU) has issued a new Implementing Regulation extending the use of chia seeds (Salvia hispanica) as a novel food.

Published in mid-January in the Official Journal of the European Union, Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/24 replaces Table 1 in Implementing Regulation (EU) 2017/2470 (which addresses authorised novel foods) regarding permitted uses of chia seeds in 12 different food categories. The amended Table also includes specific maximum percentage levels of chia seeds in four categories of food products, namely, bread products, baked products, breakfast cereals and sterilised ready to eat meals based on cereal grains. 

Chia seeds were initially authorised as a novel food for use in bread products in 2015. Since then, the Commission has received more than a dozen separate requests from EU Member State regulators and from food producers to extend the permitted use of chia seeds to additional food categories. 

To address the growing number of requests, the Commission requested an opinion from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) on the safety of chia seeds. The EFSA ultimately determined that the use of chia seeds in foods that do not require heat treatment at or above 120oC are safe. 

The complete text of the Commission’s Implementing Regulation regarding approved uses of chia seeds as published in the Official Journal is available here.

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