Akkermansia muciniphila is an intestinal anaerobe which has been proposed as a new functional microbe with probiotic properties. However, the species is not included in the European Union qualified presumption of safety (QPS) list and has not yet been assessed. Moreover, products containing A. muciniphila are not on the market and are thus controlled by the Novel Foods Regulation, which requires extensive safety assessment. This review addresses the safety aspects of the use of A. muciniphila based on published information on its functions in humans and predictions based on its activity in model animals. Further, comprehensive studies related to A. muciniphila and its safety properties have gradually appeared and are summarised here. Many of the criteria required for novel food safety assessment in Europe can thus be fulfilled. However, studies focusing on the toxicological properties of A. muciniphila, including long-term and reproduction studies, have not so far been reported and are discussed in the light of the observation that most, if not all, healthy subjects are known to carry this intestinal anaerobe. As this also applies to other beneficial bacteria found in the human intestinal tract, the A. muciniphila case can be seen as a model for the comprehensive safety evaluations required by the European authorities.
- Food safety
- Novel food