The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has decided not to class goji berries as a novel food, which means food manufacturers can continue to use them in products.

The berries, which are used in bakery products from companies such as The Village Bakery in Melmerby and Daylesford Organic in Gloucestershire, were investigated by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) in reference to the EU Novel Foods Regulation (EC) 258/97.

Goji berries, also known as Chinese wolfberries, are small red fruits which grow on the vine in China, Tibet and other parts of Asia. The goji berry is one of the latest so-called ’superfoods’ because it is high in beta-carotene, B vitamins, anti-oxidants and iron.

Beta-carotene in the fruit is thought to help fight heart disease, defend against cancer and protect the skin from sun damage.

The regulation (EC) 258/97, says that new foods must be shown to meet three criteria before they can be authorised for sale: they must not be unsafe; their labelling must not be misleading; and their nutritional quality must not be inferior to other similar foods that they could replace.

A food is judged to be novel if it was not eaten in a significant quantity in Europe before May 1997, but the FSA decided that there was sufficient evidence to indicate that goji berries were being consumed in significant amounts before this time.

This means that the requirements of the novel food regulations do not apply and goji berries can be sold without the need for authorisation.