CASCARA – THE ROAD TO EU APPROVAL
Panama Varietals completed the Novel Food Application as a first step towards official recognition and approval concerning cascara as an ingredient in food and beverage products in the EU.
The application contains references to existing research and the recent results of tests commissioned by Panama Varietals through various certified EU labs that provide the nutritional composition and address the consumption safety of cascara.
The cascara tested for the novel food application is safe for consumption and has a very nutritious profile, however, there are certain risks present in the growing, processing, and storage of cascara, similar to other naturally dried tropical fruits. The main risks involve the potential presence of external contaminants such as pesticide residues, and in particular, toxic mycotoxins formed from certain types of molds. These risks can be mitigated through Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and by following certain processing and storage guidelines.
All of Panama Varietals cascara is tested for the presence of external contaminants and meets EU safety requirements established for other dried fruits. In 2017, all of Panama Varietals cascara will carry the Cascara Safe™ label, a certification that guarantees that the cascara has been handled correctly and has undergone certain safety testing. The certification will be available to other producers and importers who follow the guidelines. Unfortunately, not all cascara entering the EU market is tested at this point in time.
The novel food application is the first step in getting cascara approved for consumption in the EU, but the novel food application does not officially authorize all cascara to be sold in the market, only the cascara that was tested for the application. The second step for other cascara approval, after a member country has approved the novel food application, is submitting a ‘notification’ that establishes ‘substantial equivalence’ to the cascara approved in the novel food application. This is a simplified procedure for approval which states that the cascara in the notification is as safe as the cascara in the novel food application which is supported by completing certain safety tests. Panama Varietals is offering assistance to companies who contribute towards the novel food application in the completion of the notification
The approval process will take some months as each EU member country has the opportunity to review and evaluate the application after the host country where the application was submitted, in this case Austria, completes their review. Panama Varietals would finally like to thank those individuals and companies who offered their support during the novel food application process and the opening of the cascara market in the EU.