gms | German Medical Science

The ABC Conference: Algae Bioactive Compounds – from research to innovation

The project is funded by Interreg Deutschland-Danmark with means from the European Regional Development Fund.

25. - 26.08.2020, Kiel, Germany (online conference)

European regulations on macroalgae products

Meeting Abstract

  • presenting/speaker Anu Lähteenmäki-Uutela - Finnish Environment Institute, Helsinki, Finland
  • Moona Rahikainen - Finnish Environment Institute, Helsinki, Finland
  • Teresa Camarena Goméz - Finnish Environment Institute, Helsinki, Finland
  • Kristian Spilling - Finnish Environment Institute, Helsinki, Finland
  • Jonna Piiparinen - Finnish Environment Institute, Helsinki, Finland

The FucoSan consortium. The ABC Conference: Algae Bioactive Compounds – from research to innovation. Kiel, 25.-26.08.2020. Düsseldorf: German Medical Science GMS Publishing House; 2020. Doc20fucosan18

doi: 10.3205/20fucosan18, urn:nbn:de:0183-20fucosan182

Veröffentlicht: 7. Oktober 2020

© 2020 Lähteenmäki-Uutela et al.
Dieser Artikel ist ein Open-Access-Artikel und steht unter den Lizenzbedingungen der Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License (Namensnennung). Lizenz-Angaben siehe



Macroalgae have been used as food, feed, and fertilizer for millennia. Today, they have even further potential uses. Product regulations are an important part of the institutional environment for the macroalgae business in Europe, impacting the whole supply chain. Here, we study the European regulatory routes and possibilities for macroalgae-based products. The substantive rules as well as the pre-market authorization or notification procedures have an impact on market access and investment payback. Ultimately, the rules have an impact on the extent and focus of macroalgae innovation.

Macroalgae may exert medicinal impacts. Directive (EC) 2001/82 creates procedures for a) herbal medicinal products and for b) traditional herbal medicinal products. Algae are under the definition of herbal substances, and algae substances and algal preparations are herbal medicines. Herbal preparations are products of treatments such as extraction, distillation or fermentation. The authorization of herbal medicinal products requires scientific literature to prove established medicinal use, recognized efficacy, and an acceptable level of safety. For registration as a traditional herbal medicinal product, the marketer needs to prove traditional use only, medicinal claims cannot however be made.

Many edible macroalgae have high nutritional value. The Novel Food Regulation (EU) 2017/2470 applies to foods that have not previously been consumed in the Union. Two macroalgae products, fucoidan extracts from Fucus vesiculosus or Undaria pinnatifida, have been accepted as novel foods for use in foods and food supplements. In addition, phlorotannin extracted form brown alga Ecklonia cava has been authorized as a novel food for use in food supplements. The Novel Food Catalogue contains information on the novel food status of different foods. At the end of 2019, there were 22 macroalgae species listed. Of these, 21 were considered “not novel”. One species, Sphaerotrichia divaricate, was considered a novel food that must undergo the authorization procedure. The non-novel species include the most commonly used European red and brown algae species. A lot of species, green algae in particular, are however missing. Green algae in the genera Ulva, Enteromorpha and Monostroma have great potential as food also in Europe but are currently not listed.

The use of food additives in the EU is controlled by the Regulation (EC) 1333/2008, containing a list of authorized food additives which comprises eight macroalgae-derived additives under codes E401-E407a. A wide variety of brown and red algae are accepted for the extraction of thickening and gelling agents like alginates, agar and carrageenan.

The accepted feed materials are defined in the Commission Regulation (EU) 68/2013. Algae meals as well as algae oil and extract are included. Regulation (EC)1223/2009 on cosmetic products contains the basic EU rules on cosmetics. Regulation (EU) 2019/904 on single-used plastic materials increases the demand for bio-based materials, and Regulation on Food Contact Materials (EC) 1935/2004 applies to food packaging. Fertilizers and biostimulants are governed by the Regulation (EU) 2019/1009. The revised Renewable Energy Directive (EU) 2018/2001 increases the demand for biofuels, and the Delegated Regulation on Indirect Land-Use Change (EU) 2019/807 establishes their sustainability criteria.