Politics & Law

Special Guest Series: Mathilde Do Chi, Expert on Food Law, Part Two – The EU & Novel Foods

Mathilde Do Chi, is the CEO of Vegan Food Law, a food law and regulatory consultancy in global alternative protein regulations. She is an 

In this second installment of the series, Mathilde addresses the challenges and opportunities surrounding novel food in the EU. As novel foods emerge, offering the potential for sustainable and ethical dietary options, they encounter significant hurdles: resistance rooted in protecting culinary heritage, regulatory frameworks biased towards traditional animal-based products, and the critical need for effective communication to win over consumer acceptance.

Mathilde examines the complex journey of novel foods towards gaining a foothold in the European market, aiming to strike a balance between preserving cultural legacies and embracing the future of food

The EU’s Controversial Path to Innovation Through Novel Foods

By Mathilde Do Chi

The culinary landscape is constantly evolving, and the European Union (EU) plays a significant role in regulating novel foods. However, this quest for gastronomic innovation is not without controversy.

To be successfully authorized by regulatory authorities, novel foods must overcome numerous challenges, such as the perception of threat to traditional foods by certain member states, the regulatory bias towards conventional animal-based products, and the importance of effective communication to entice consumers to embrace novel food options.

a cultivated beef hamburger in a petty dish held by a man's hands
David Parry/PA, image courtesy of Mosa Meat

Novel foods as threats to tradition

Some member states, such as Italy, France, and Romania, perceive novel foods as a threat to their rich culinary traditions. This perception has led to initiatives aimed at banning the production and implementing unnecessary restrictions on novel foods within their jurisdictions. Proponents argue that these measures are intended to protect cultural heritage, such as the gastronomic meal of the French, but critics argue that they hinder innovation and limit consumer choice.

Regulatory bias towards traditional animal-based products

The existing regulatory system in the EU often favours traditional or well-established animal-based products, like the famous protected designations of origin (PDO) Mozzarella di Bufala Campana, over new sources of food. This bias can create barriers for innovators seeking to introduce novel foods in the market. The complex and lengthy approval processes, coupled with stringent safety assessments, can be burdensome and discourage investment and research in alternative food sources.

Communication challenges for novel foods

While regulations play a role in the acceptance of novel foods, effective communication is equally crucial. Companies must bridge the gap between consumers and novel food options. Many consumers may be hesitant to try new foods due to unfamiliarity or limited knowledge about their environmental, ethical, and health benefits. Clear and engaging communication campaigns that highlight the sustainability, nutritional value, and taste of novel foods can help overcome these barriers and entice consumers to give them a chance.

Cultivated pork sausages
Image courtesy of Meatable

Promoting collaboration and education

To address the controversy surrounding novel foods, collaboration among stakeholders is essential. Governments, industry players, and consumer organizations should engage in constructive dialogue to develop regulations that balance innovation and tradition. Additionally, educational initiatives can help dispel misconceptions and raise awareness about the potential benefits of novel foods, fostering a more receptive environment for their introduction.


Novel foods in the EU represent a unique opportunity for gastronomic innovation, but their journey is not without challenges. The perception of threats to traditional foods by certain member states, regulatory biases, and communication gaps hinder their acceptance. By fostering collaboration, improving regulations, and enhancing communication efforts, the EU can embrace the potential of novel foods and pave the way for a diverse and sustainable culinary future.

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