Following a request from the European Commission, the Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies was asked to deliver a scientific opinion on the safety of ‘Chia seed (Salvia hispanica) and ground whole Chia’ as a food ingredient.
The Panel has been requested to specify whether the authorisation of Chia as a food ingredient for bread is likely to have an effect on public health and to focus on the concerns of a scientific nature raised by various Members States. On 5 October 2005 the "Opinion of the Scientific Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies on a request from the Commission related to the safety of Chia (Salvia hispanica L.) seeds and ground whole Chia seeds as a novel food ingredient intended for use in bread" was adopted. On the basis of the available data the safety of Chia could not be established and additional studies were required.
In 2006 the 'Columbus Paradigm Institute S.A.' became responsible for this application and submitted an amended file in order to provide the information necessary to establish the safety of Chia.
From the compositional data on Chia seeds, its nutritional characteristics and the proposed use, the Panel considers that there is no reason to consider this novel food ingredient nutritionally disadvantageous to the consumer under the proposed conditions of use.
There is no evidence of adverse effects of whole Chia seeds and whole ground Chia seeds, while there are still uncertainties with regard to the potential allergenicity of Chia. However, the Panel recognises the difficulty of predicting, using methodologies available to date, the potential allergenicity of this NF, noted the provided complementary information showing no indication of allergenicity and considers that concerns on this issue could be reasonably addressed by appropriate management measures.
The toxicological information on Chia seeds from animal and controlled human studies is limited. However, experience gained from previous and current use of Chia seeds for food purposes in non-EU countries can be regarded as supportive evidence to allow a positive conclusion on the safety of Chia seeds and ground whole Chia seeds under the proposed conditions of use.
Based on the available data, the Panel concludes that it is unlikely that the use of Chia seeds in bread at a maximum of 5 % would have an adverse effect on public health.