Westminster Food & Nutrition Forum

Since lockdown, we have been organising our full programme of conferences online. We will continue online until further notice, to ensure we play our part in helping our employees and delegates to remain safe during this time. We are pleased that so many key stakeholders, policymakers and other interested parties - both old friends and new delegates - are taking up the opportunity to discuss public policy issues and network at our impartial seminars. New events are coming on to our conference programme all the time. So there are plenty of opportunities for you to join us if you haven’t already, from wherever you are. For booking-related queries, or information on speaking, please email us at info@forumsupport.co.uk or contact us using one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7538736244 / +44 (0)7503591880 / +44 (0)7951044809.
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New and emerging novel foods - the UK regulatory system, market development, safety, and innovation in the food sector

Morning, Tuesday, 27th April 2021

***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference focuses on the regulation of new and emerging novel foods in the UK - including the way forward for policy following the UK’s exit from the EU, how regulation is responding to innovation in the food sector, and the role of novel food methods in addressing food system challenges.

Areas for discussion include:

  • establishing the UK regulatory system for novel foods - managing a smooth transition, new opportunities and challenges, and the future relationship with the EU
  • market development - improving access to novel food products across the plant-based sector, as well as insect foods and CBD
  • safety - ensuring that consumers are protected as the sector grows
  • research and development - priorities for driving forward innovation in the food sector, and how the regulatory system can keep pace
  • sustainable food production - the role of novel foods, and the next steps for meeting strategic challenges within the food system

The discussion is bringing together stakeholders with key policy officials who are due to attend from Defra; DHSC; the CCC; the FSA; Food Standards Scotland; BEIS; DIT; the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office; and the Welsh Government.

The agenda

  • Developments in regulating novel foods and the UK’s approach following exit from the EU
  • Regulation of novel foods in the UK - responding to emerging trends, the evolving regulatory landscape, and priorities for the UK’s future relationship with the EU and other territories
  • Safe market development and access to novel foods - consumer protection and the use of descriptors, responding to plant-based sector growth, learning from insect-based food regulation, and CBD as a novel food
  • Priorities for research and innovation in the food sector and the regulatory response to utilising novel food processes
  • The role of novel methods in the production of sustainable food and addressing food system challenges going forward
  • The future for the use of GM and gene-edited methods in the UK
  • Developments in nutritional health claims in novel foods and the impact of COVID-19
  • Next steps for the use of innovative food methods to meet UK strategic challenges

Areas for discussion:

  • Transition from the EU and UK regulation:
    • the transition to UK regulation:
      • the transference and development of a novel foods regulatory system in the UK following exit from the EU
      • the process of separating risk assessment and risk management functions within the FSA, and preparing for increased capacity
    • ensuring accountability and adaptability:
      • adapting to new novel foods in the UK
      • the impact of exit from the EU on the UK’s regulatory approach
      • providing a coordinated approach to assessments across the UK
    • the future relationship with EFSA - including use of datasets, and the practicalities and potential challenges of the maintenance of EU guidance to reduce bureaucratic burden 
  • CBD:
    • the UK’s stance on CBD and the potential for any divergence following the recent EU Court of Justice ruling that CBD is not narcotic
    • assessing the growth in development of CBD products in the UK, its position as a novel food, and priorities for the safe market development of CBD products 
  • insect-based foods - what can be learned for the UK’s regulatory assessment process, as EFSA approves yellow mealworms as its first insect-based food product
  • plant-based foods:
    • use of descriptors:
      • as the plant-based product market grows and the use of meat terms for alternative products receives support in the UK and EU
      • with discussion turning to the descriptors used for dairy-free products, as the EU votes to ban dairy terms for these products
      • implications for the industry, and the UK’s position going forward
    • transparency and clarity:
      • marketing and advertising of plant-based products, and ensuring consumers are not misled
      • the impact of Advertising Standards Agency rulings on raising awareness and addressing concerns about consumer protection
    • regulatory agility:
      • adapting to developments within the plant-based sector, particularly with the use of novel processes to create products imitating meat
      • ensuring safety in the utilisation of these new methods
  • nutritional health food claims and functional foods - including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the acceleration of products with general health, wellbeing and wellness claims
  • research and innovation:
    • supporting R&D within the food sector to meet changing population needs and behaviours
    • ensuring safety while avoiding restricting development of innovative methods, such as 3D printing and the personalisation of food products within the food sector
    • GM and gene-edited crops
      • what should be the UK’s position on the use of GM and gene-edited crops and livestock following exit from the EU
      • assessing the evidence around GM approaches and delivery, with discussion expected on safety concerns and the impact of the UK’s position on the sector 
  • sustainable food production in the UK:
    • the role of novel foods and processes in meeting both environmental and food security challenges within the UK moving forward
    • policy trends - whether the gene-editing consultation is the sign of a change in direction in the approach to food sector innovation, and what this could mean for the future of regulation
    • the UK National Food Strategy - how the UK can safely harness novel food development in addressing the country’s strategic challenges in agriculture, nutrition, the environment and national climate ambitions

A scan of relevant developments:

  • EU Court of Justice ruling on CBD - the recent ruling that cannabis-based CBD is not a narcotic drug and does not have a harmful effect on health
  • Food Standards Agency sets deadline for the CBD industry and provides safety advice to consumers - with:
    • CBD products that have not submitted an application and safety information to the regulator being taken off the market after the 31st March
    • introduction of safety advice to vulnerable groups and recommendations for safe healthy adult use
  • EFSA approval of its first insect-based food product - for yellow mealworms following the EFSA novel food assessment process
  • Gene Editing consultation launches in England - from Defra, including calls for evidence on the GM approach, possibly signalling a new approach from the UK following exit from the EU
  • the National Food Strategy - which looked at the challenges facing the food system in Part One of the review, and is expected to consider the solutions and opportunities for transforming the food system in Part Two - which is expected in the spring

Policy officials attending:

Places have been reserved by parliamentary pass-holders from the House of Commons, and officials from BEIS; the Committee on Climate Change; Defra; the Department for International Trade; the Department of Health and Social Care; the Food Standards Agency; Food Standards Scotland; the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office; and the Welsh Government. Also due to attend are representatives from Alcarelle; Blackmore Vale Farm Cream; Bridge Farm Group; British Hemp Alliance; Caerphilly County Borough Council; Cannazum; CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang; Creme Global; Dunbia; Exponent International; GM Freeze; Health Food Manufacturers' Association; IVC Brunel Healthcare; John Innes Centre; Mewburn Ellis; Natural Resources Institute (NRI), University of Greenwich; North Yorkshire County Council; Nuffield Council on Bioethics; Ocado Retail; Pete Martin; RSPCA; Rubicon Technical; Safefood; University of Westminster and Waitrose & Partners.

Overall, we expect speakers and attendees to be a senior and informed group including Members of both Houses of Parliament, senior government and regulatory officials involved in this area of policy, together with representatives of the agriculture and food and drink industry - including associations, manufacturers, retailers, and suppliers - local government officials, ports and logistics, lawyers, environmental groups, academics, international attendees, charities and consumer groups, together with reporters from the national and specialist media.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording and transcript to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

Keynote Speakers

Annie-Laure Robin

Senior Consultant, Scientific and Regulatory Affairs, Leatherhead Food Research

Professor Denis Murphy

Professor of Biotechnology, University of South Wales

Keynote Speakers

Professor Denis Murphy

Professor of Biotechnology, University of South Wales

Senior speaker confirmed from the Food Standards Agency

Annie-Laure Robin

Senior Consultant, Scientific and Regulatory Affairs, Leatherhead Food Research

Professor Erik Millstone

Professor of Science Policy, Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex

Katrina Hayter

Challenge Director, Transforming Food Production, UKRI


Dr Adrian Charlton

Principal Scientist in Protein Biochemistry and Food Safety, Fera Science

Dr Parveen Bhatarah

Regulatory and Compliance Associate, Centre of Medicinal Cannabis and Association for the Cannabinoid Industry

Simon Benadiba

Member, Food Regulatory Group Committee, Institute of Food Science and Technology and Regulatory Affairs Manager, Innocent Drinks

Sian Edmunds

Partner, Burges Salmon

Katie Vickery

International Regulatory and Compliance Partner, Osborne Clark

Keiran Whitaker

Founder, Entocycle