Red clover in germ flour qualifies as a novel food

Austrian Food Code novel foods

Decision of the Regional Administrative Court of Burgenland of 21 May 2019 in case E 156/02/2018.003/015

Under the Novel Food Regulation (Regulation (EU) 2015/2283), "novel foods" require authorisation by the European Commission and inclusion in a Union list prior to their being placed on the market. A food is novel if – in simple terms – it falls into certain food categories and was not used for human consumption to a significant degree in the European Union prior to 15 May 1997.

In the particular case, a germ flour containing red clover (approx. 1%) was placed on the market. The Regional Administrative Court of Burgenland prohibited the placing on the market of the product due to non-compliance with the Novel Food Regulation. Flour containing red clover constitutes a novel food. Although red clover has always been used in bread flour in times of crisis and need, this does not substantiate an adequate history of food use prior to 15 May 1997. Even the use of red clover in food supplements and as a brightening agent in teas – which is also classified as conventional in Chapter B 31 (Tea and tea-like products) of the Austrian Codex Alimentarius – does not change the novel status of red clover germs in flour mixtures.

The outcome of the decision results from the specific novel food test: A food may be novel when used in a particular way, while it is not novel when used differently. Therefore, even domestic products traditionally consumed in certain forms may require novel food authorisation.