According to the UK's Food Standards Agency (FSA), Leap of Faith has requested an opinion from the agency on the equivalence of their noni juice ingredient with the approved noni juice produced by Tahitian Noni International, which is currently on the EU market.
This novel foods approval for noni however included the requirement that there were no accompanying health claims to the product.
Noni juice comes from the fruit commonly known as 'noni'. But it is also known as 'Indian Mulberry' and 'nonu'. It is one of a number of antioxidant fruits, including pomegranate, guarana, mangosteen, goji berries and blueberries, which are increasingly seen by food and beverage makers as up and coming ingredients.
The previous approval only covered the applicant company. However, regulation (EC) 258/97 makes provision for novel foods or ingredients that are substantially equivalent to an existing product to be placed on the market once the applicant has informed the European Commission.
In all cases to date, the Commission has required that the applicant first obtain an opinion on substantial equivalence from a Member State.
Leap of Faith Farms wishes to market its noni juice obtained from noni fruit grown in Panama in four forms: pure fresh juice, fresh juice with three to 15 per cent other fruit juices, fresh juice concentrated and frozen (for transport and subsequent reconstituting) and dried fresh juice (for transport and subsequent reconstituting).
All of these would be marketed as ingredients in a pasteurised fruit drink.
The expert committee that advises the agency on novel foods, the Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes (ACNFP), says that it will now consider this application.
Any comments on this application should be sent to the ACNFP Secretariat by 26 January 2006 and will be passed to the Committee for consideration during its assessment of this novel food ingredient.
The ACNFP is a non-statutory, independent body of scientific experts that carries out safety assessments of any novel food or process submitted for approval under the EC novel food regulation.
It is supported in its work by a secretariat provided by the FSA. The secretariat has scientific expertise that enables them to provide Members with comprehensive background information and briefing papers that inform the decision-making processes of the Committee.