Goji berries could be banned from the UK, the Food Standards Agency told just-food today (20 February) because the so-called superfruit may not be classified as safe according to European regulations.

Goji berries have exploded in popularity since their antioxidant properties, high vitamin and mineral content and celebrity endorsement have grabbed headlines, making them a fashionable "superfood". They have become commonly available in supermarkets as dried fruits or in products such as cereal bars.

However, unless the FSA receives proof that the berry has been commonly eaten in the EU for more than ten-years the berries and products containing them may have to be removed from shelves for failing to meet EU regulations governing the sale of novel foods.

"We can't speculate on whether goji berries are eligible for sale in the UK," a spokesperson for the FSA told just-food. "Novel foods are judged on a case-by-case basis, our decision depends entirely on the evidence we receive. To be sold in the UK, products must comply with European legislation."

If retailers and manufacturers are unable to provide proof that the berries have been eaten in the EU for ten-years, the sale of goji berries will be prohibited from 23 March. The berries will then face a two-year approval process before they will again become available to UK consumers. To gain EU approval, it will have to be proven that they are safe to eat, their labelling is not misleading and their nutritional quality is not inferior to similar foods that they could replace.