Novel Foods

Breaking news (January 2018)

Hey all, news just in - guayusa has now been approved! Yay! You can see it listed here on the Union List of Novel Foods. This means the world to us!

Marketing guayusa as a food product in the EU

As we're sure you are aware, there's a large number of outlets in the USA for great guayusa products.

In the UK and EU the future of guayusa is unclear due to special regulations which mean that as guayusa (or any new food product) has not been consumed in the EU to a significant degree before 15 May 1997, it is considered as a 'Novel Food'.

Products that fall into this category are subject to a rigorous, long and expensive assesment before they can be placed on the market as a food item.

Ilex guayusa's close South American relative, Ilex paraguariensis (Yerba Mate), has been widely-enough consumed in the EU before the above date and is available in mainstream health shops such as Holland and Barrett and is therefore automatically deemed safe. (Historical documents from Argentina indicate that many tons of Yerba mate were exported to France and other European countries back in the late 1930's).

Who could fail to recognise the importance of the Novel Food rules? Ultimately they are intended to protect people, but they have made it complicated for guayusa which has, after all, a long history of human consumption in traditional Amazonian communities - and is gaining a large and enthusiastic following in the USA.

In the USA, guayusa has not been subject to these regulations and has become incredibly popular as a new 'clean energy' beverage, with investments from high profile celebrities such as Leonardo DiCaprio and Channing Tatum in Runa. Also, tennis stars, Steve Johnson and John Isner, have become investors.

Guayusa has a healthy market penetration outside of its native environments in Ecuador, Peru and Colombia and is enjoyed as a beverage by human beings every day. If you look at the available outlets in the USA for Runa's guayusa products, they are all health / whole food shops.

Guayusa is popular on social media - many adopters of guayusa are also healthy 'fitness types' looking for a cleaner caffeine energy. Just check out the Instagram stream of guayusa hashtags.

Guayusa has also had wide press and media coverage and is sometimes hailed as the 'new super/energy drink'. 

Equally, traditionally, it's been used and consumed by human beings for so long that we understand that the plant relies on human hands - completely - for its onwards propagation and, ultimately, existence.

The Australian view

Clearly guayusa has made a big splash in the USA since the inception of Runa in 2009. But what about Australia?

This is the website of the Australian Novel Foods regulators. If you download this document, linked from the page above - you will see clearly guayusa entered as a recent listing in black and white from their competent authorities as not a Novel Food and safe to consume as a tea.

Food or food ingredient Outcome View  Justification/Comment
Ilex guayusa
(leaf – infusion in hot water)
Non-traditional food
Not novel food
Plant native to South America. Leaves are used in preparation of hot beverage (similar to tea). No safety concerns identified when consumed in this way.

What's your view?

Please get in touch with your thoughts!