Shipments of saskatoons from Canada to the UK could by halted this week after British experts decided the blueberry-like fruits should be classed as a 'novel food'.

According to European Union regulations governing novel foods, any food that was not part of the European diet prior to 1997 must undergo food safety and nutrition testing before it is allowed on supermarket shelves.

Canadian farmers only started exporting saskatoons to the UK in the last few years and had argued that the fruit is so like the blueberry that it should be exempt from the regulation.

However, experts working for the UK's Food Standards Agency have now said that the saskatoon is not related to the blueberry, but is in fact part of the family that includes apples and plums, reported the Globe and Mail.

"Now it's a regulatory process, so the mechanism will have to run its course," said Gordon Pugh, deputy director of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's trade division for the Eastern Hemisphere. 

"It's really frustrating," Pugh was quoted by the Globe and Mail as saying. "It seems so silly that this could be considered a novel food."

Only a small amount of saskatoons are currently exported to the UK. The majority of the saskatoons grown in Canada are for domestic consumption, while exports are mostly limited to the US and Japan.