Last updated on 1 May 2014

Views wanted on sporopollenin shells

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A UK company has applied to the Food Standards Agency for approval to market sporopollenin shells from a type of plant known as clubmoss Lycopodium clavatum, as a novel food ingredient. Views are wanted on the independent experts' draft opinion.

The company, Sporomex Ltd, plans to market sporopollenin shells as a novel food ingredient to be included in this range of foods:

  • food supplements
  • bakery products
  • breakfast cereals
  • dairy products and dairy substitutes
  • foods for special medical purposes
  • foods for use in energy-restricted diets for weight reduction
  • foods for particular nutritional uses ('PARNUTs', as defined in Directive 2009/39/EC)

More about sporopollenin shells

Sporopollenin shells are produced by emptying spores from Lycopodium clavatum of their genetic, lipid and protein material to leave an empty sporopollenin shell. The applicant’s intention is to fill the empty shell with functional ingredients such as fish oils or vitamins. The applicant states that sporopollenin shells will therefore function as a system to deliver functional ingredients more effectively into the body.

The novel ingredient plus its contents make a powder which could be incorporated into food or drink by the consumer or manufacturer.

About novel foods

A novel food is a food or food ingredient that does not have a significant history of consumption within the European Union before 15 May 1997.

Before any new food product can be introduced on the European market it must be rigorously assessed for safety. In the UK, the assessment of novel foods is carried out by the Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes, an independent committee of scientists appointed by the FSA.

Deadline for comments

The FSA is inviting comments on the draft opinion. Any comments should be emailed to the ACNFP Secretariat at ACNFP@foodstandards.gsi.gov.uk by Saturday 10 May 2014. The comments received will be passed to the before it adopts its final opinion on this novel food ingredient. The Committee is particularly interested in establishing whether manufacturers have sufficient controls in place to assess the bioavailability of ingredients carried within and delivered to the body from the shells.

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