Novel foods and feeds
Novel foods and feeds
Marzia De Giacomo, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Food safety, nutrition and veterinary public health
The OECD Task Force on "Novel Food and Feed Safety" was established in 1999, with the objective of promoting international regulatory harmonisation in the risk assessment and safety of biotechnology products. ISS was involved in the Task Force from the beginning and has continued to be so ever since. This body was renamed Working Group on the Safety of Novel Foods and Feeds (WG-SNFF) in 2017 and recently Working Party for the Safety of Novel Foods and Feeds (WP-SNFF).
The WP-SNFF includes delegates from the 36 member countries of the OECD and the European Commission. It includes many of the most advanced countries, but also emerging countries such as Chile and Mexico. Several delegations of observers and invited experts from Argentina, Colombia, the Russian Federation and South Africa also participate in the work of the WP, as do FAO and WHO, the OECD Business and Industry Advisory Committee (BIAC), other relevant bodies such as ILSI and the African Union Biosafety Expertise Network. Since 2004, several other countries (e.g. Bangladesh, China) have occasionally participated in WP activities.
An important part of the WP's work programme is the development of Consensus Documents on crop composition data (key nutrients, toxic substances and anti-nutritional compounds). These documents are useful for the development of guidelines and, to encourage information sharing between OECD and non-OECD countries, they also provide a technical tool for regulatory officials, industry and other interested parties. They complement those of the WP-HROB dealing with environmental safety aspects. These documents are prepared on the basis of official proposals from member countries. The WP establishes ad hoc drafting groups, composed of officials and scientific experts from the countries concerned. Revised drafts are reviewed by the full WP and after an internal OECD process for final approval, the document is available online.
Recently, Italy has taken the lead, with technical support from EFSA, in requesting an update of the consensus document on oilseed rape, highlighting some shortcomings in the document. The BioTrack website provides publications and news from the WP, details on national safety systems and other information. It also gives access to the product database (www.oecd.org/biotrack). The WP continues its work on a number of issues: development of new consensus documents and updating of existing ones, new biotechnologies including genome editing (The 2018 OECD Conference on Genome Editing in which the WP actively collaborated), innovative feed ingredients and other relevant information, all to be considered in the light of food and feed safety issues.