EFSA launches public consultation on botanicals

Botanicals and derived preparations made from plants, algae, fungi or lichens, have become widely available on the EU market. Examples include ginkgo, garlic, St. John’s Wort and ginseng. These products are typically labeled as natural foods and a variety of claims are made regarding possible health benefits. They can be bought over the counter in pharmacies, supermarkets, herbalists and via the Internet.

The members of the EFSA Advisory Forum have expressed the need for a comprehensive and harmonised approach to assessing risks for these products.

 As a result, the EFSA Scientific Committee has developed a draft guidance for the safety assessment of botanicals and botanical preparations used as food supplements, as well as criteria to prioritise such products for safety assessment. The Committee has also prepared two draft compendia listing botanicals that contain natural compounds that may deserve specific attention when looking at their safe use in food.

All interested parties are invited to submit feedback on the proposed approach, as well as additional sources of information for the compendia by responding to the consultation by 15 February 2008. Comments should be submitted by means of the electronic form available on the EFSA website. As a follow-up, the draft approach for safety assessment will be tested with real cases by a specially formed Working Group of the Scientific Committee and the Advisory Forum.

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