Cockerel comb is the large fleshy red skin on top of the cockerel’s head, which is a traditional dish in some European countries, such as Spain.
The applicant, a Spanish company called Bioiberica, states that rooster combs extract (RCE) is rich in sodium hyaluronate(SH) at 60-80 per cent, which it claims helps in lubricating and cushioning joints.
Yoghurts and fromage frais
Bioiberica plans to add RCE to dairy foods, including milk-based fermented beverages, milks, yoghurts and fromage frais, to help boost SH levels in the diet.
A novel food is a food or food ingredient that does not have a significant history of consumption within the European Union before 15 May 1997.
Before any new food product can be introduced on the European market, it must be assessed for safety. In the UK, the assessment of novel food is carried out by the Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes (ACNFP).
The ACNFP has just released its draft opinion, which concluded that it did not have any significant safety concerns.
It said: “RCE, added to milk-based fermented beverages, yogurts, milks and fromage frais at the levels proposed by the applicant (80 mg per day), is unlikely to present a health risk to consumers.”
Bioiberica did not wish to be interviewed at this time.
However its application states: “Foods naturally containing sodium hyaluronate are very limited. Only viscera and rooster combs have high amounts of this substance.
“A good way to make up this lack in sodium hyaluronate could be including a rooster combs extract (RCE) in foods which are daily consumed, like dairy products.
“Milks or yogurts containing our RCE would supply constant amounts of sodium hyaluronate to our diets, helping our joints to keep in healthy conditions.
“Also, a dairy product containing the RCE will provide an alternative to the currently marketed food supplements (tablets and capsules which contain high amounts of sodium hyaluronate) and also would be a daily alternative to viscera or rooster combs consumption.”
The end products are expected to be consumed by adults, sportsmen, the elderly and menopausal women.
The ACNFP assessment is based only on safety and not on any possible health benefits. It said any claims relating to maintaining joint health may require approval under the EU Nutrition and Health Claims Regulation (Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006).
The committee also emphasised that "if the novel ingredient is authorised in the EU, foods into which it is incorporated should be clearly labelled so as not to mislead consumers”. And there should be particular care when added to products otherwise regarded as suitable for vegetarians.
Comments on the draft opinion are now being sought by the ACNFP, to be received by August 6 2011, which will be considered by the committee before it finalises its opinion.