Authorisation of novel foods

When and for what is an authorisation required? Which foods need to be authorised? These questions are answered on this page.

Since the complete revision of Swiss food law with effect from 1 May 2017, the provision stating that products may be placed on the market only if they have been described in an Ordinance or authorised by the FSVO no longer applies. With the exception of a few reservations (e.g. novel foods), non-described foods without an authorisation may now also be placed on the market, provided they meet all of the requirements of food law.

 

Novel foods

Novel foods are generally divided into two categories:

  • Novel traditional foods
  • Novel foods

Novel traditional foods are foods that are traditionally consumed outside Switzerland and the EU (e.g. cañihua). They benefit from a simplified authorisation procedure.

Novel foods, on the other hand, such as protein extracts derived from insects, require a more complex authorisation procedure in order to guarantee food safety. The legal definition of novel foods can be found in Article 15 para. 1 of the Ordinance on Foodstuffs and Utility Articles (FUAO) (in French).

Novel foods listed in Annex 1 to the FDHA Ordinance on Novel Foods (in French) do not require an authorisation. In addition to three insect species, these are all novel foods that are authorised in the EU (see EU Union list) or can be placed on the market on the basis of notifications (see “More information”). The provisions set out in the individual implementing decisions and notifications must be complied with. The person named in the implementing decision or notification and to whom the decision or notification is addressed is deemed to be the authorisation holder. The stated product may be placed on the market only by that person, or by other persons having their consent.

Important:

  • Authorisations are generally not issued for composite foods. The authorisation requirement always relates to a particular substance (e.g. protein extract derived from insects as a novel food) or a particular primary product (e.g. cañihua as a traditional novel food), rather than to a composite product containing a novel food as an ingredient (e.g. cereal bars enriched with protein extract derived from insects). Applications for authorisations must be prepared accordingly. 
  • All novel foods that are marketable in the EU according to the Union List may be placed on the market in Switzerland without authorisation, insofar as they comply with all regulations in accordance with individual implementing decisions and notifications. However, the reverse situation does not apply. Foods that are not novel foods in Switzerland or have been authorised as such in Switzerland and are classified as a novel food in the EU require an authorisation from the European Commission for market placement in the EU.

 

Authorisation procedure for novel foods

The processing of applications for authorisation is generally subject to a fee (see Art. 108–109 of the Ordinance on the Implementation of Foodstuffs Legislation (FLIO) (in French).

 
 

Authorisation of novel foods

If a novel food is authorised, this is done in the form of an individual order. The authorisation is granted for a period of five years with no option of extension. If the conditions relating to food safety and prohibition of deception are still fulfilled after the authorisation has expired, the novel food is included in Annex 1 to the FDHA Ordinance on Novel Foods (in French) after re-examination by the FSVO.

On the other hand, if a novel traditional food is authorised, this is done in the form of a general order. Authorised novel traditional foods are periodically included in Annex 2 to the FDHA Ordinance on Novel Foods (in French).

Distinction between therapeutic products and foods

Representatives of Swissmedic and the FSVO have produced a report clarifying the distinction between therapeutic products and foods. The Swiss and European legal bases were taken into account. The report makes it easier to determine which authority is responsible for which measure (see under “More information”).

 

More information

Contact

Applications must be submitted by post to the following address:

Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office FSVO
Food and Nutrition
Market Access
Schwarzenburgstrasse 155
3003 Bern, Switzerland

Annexes may also be submitted by email to lme@blv.admin.ch.

 

Last modification 19.06.2020

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