If it helps reduce the inflammation in the arthritic knees of racehorses, a little in your yogurt or other dairy product couldn’t hurt, could it?

We are talking about turning rooster’s combs into a food ingredient, or a “novel” food ingredient, as they call it in Europe. 

Rooster combs are the large fleshy red skin on top the cockerel’s head and, like shark fins and elephant tusks, cockerel comb extract is thought to have some almost magical powers.

Rooster combs produce Hyaluronan, which is used for everything from protecting eyes during surgery to plumping up facial wrinkles.  Scientists have known how to extract and purify Hyaluronan from rooster combs since the 1940s.  It may even figure into cancer research in the future.

But now, it may be turned into a novel food ingredient in Europe.

In the United Kingdom, the Food Standards Agency says a Spanish company has applied for approval to market cockerel combs extract.

A novel food in the UK is a food or food ingredient that does not have a significant history of consumption within the European Union before May 15, 1997.

The company, Bioiberica, says that rooster combs have been consumed in some European countries as part of traditional dishes. 

The applicant also states that rooster combs extract is rich in sodium Hyaluronate and helps to lubricate and cushion joints. The company plans to add the extract to dairy foods, including milks, yogurts and fromage frais.

Before any new food product can be introduced on the European market, it must be assessed rigorously for safety.

In the UK, the assessment of novel foods is carried out by the Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes (ACNFP), an independent committee of scientists appointed by the Food Standards Agency.

The public has until March 1 to comment on the application.