Compendium of Botanicals

EFSA’s Compendium of Botanicals is a database of botanicals that are reported to contain naturally occurring substances of possible concern for human health when present in food.

The compendium is not intended to conclude on the safety or non-safety of the listed botanical species but to help with the safety assessment of botanicals and botanical preparations intended for use in food, including supplements, by facilitating hazard identification.

The presence of a substance of concern in a botanical does not necessarily mean that the substance will also be present in a botanical preparation and, if so, at a dosage that could cause a health concern. This would depend largely on the plant part used, the preparation method and the conditions of use.

The compendium does not list all bioactive substances present in a given botanical and their potential health effects, nor does it flag botanicals or botanical substances of possible concern for animal health when used as feed or feed additives. However, where adverse effects reported on animal health were found in the literature, they are reported in the compendium.

If a specific species shows an adverse health effect, other closely related species in terms of botanical taxonomy and chemical composition profile should also be considered for possible adverse health effects. The possibility of using read-across is further described in the SC opinion on a qualified presumption of safety (QPS) approach for the safety assessment of botanicals and botanical preparations.

The absence of a botanical species from the compendium does not mean the species is devoid of compounds hazardous to human health. Similarly, if a specific part of a plant is not mentioned, this does not mean that substance(s) of concern are absent from this part. If a botanical species does not appear in the compendium this is most probably because it is not on any of the lists considered (see description of the sources of information considered here).

The compendium does not address possible synergies or antagonisms between botanical species, preparations and substances, or possible interactions with other products that would need to be taken into account when assessing safety, as described in the SC guidance on safety assessment of botanicals and botanical preparations intended for use as ingredients in food supplements.

Botanicals are listed whether or not they are novel foods. When a plant genus was present in the lists considered by the working group, but no species was mentioned, the spp. was included in the compendium.

The compendium currently does not include algae, cyanobacteria and fungi; they will be considered for possible inclusion in the future.

Legal disclaimer

The compendium lists in alphabetical order botanicals without any judgment on whether they are suitable or not suitable for food applications in Europe. The compendium is part of preparatory work undertaken by EFSA to harmonise the methodology for assessing the safety of botanicals and botanical preparations used in food. The compendium has no legal or regulatory force and may not be used as support or evidence in any disagreement or dispute pertaining to the legal classification of products or substances.

This version of the compendium is still under construction and will be finalised early 2017. The compendium is open for additional contributions and comments from users, to be sent to sc.secretariat [at] efsa.europa.eu.  

[1] This information is stored and presented in the EFSA Data Warehouse (Adobe Flash Player required – free download available at the Adobe website).