The UK's Food Standards Agency (the FSA) has today made its first warning to consumers about cannabidiol (more commonly referred to as "CBD") products. The FSA has set a deadline of 31 March 2021 for the CBD industry to submit a valid novel food authorisation application after which time, only CBD products which have submitted a valid application will be allowed to remain on the market. Non-compliant items could therefore be removed from shelves. The FSA has requested that local authorities enforce this position.
To date, and despite rising sales of CBD products, not one CBD product has been approved for use as a "novel food" in the UK. Businesses will be permitted to sell their existing CBD products provided that they are not incorrectly labelled, are not unsafe to eat and do not contain any substances which fall under drug legislation until 31 March 2021.
Today's announcement follows the European Commission's categorisation of CBD as a "novel food". The FSA has previously stated that it is committed to achieving compliance in the marketplace. It also follows the findings from the Government's Committee of Toxicity on the potential adverse health effects from consumption of CBD products. The Committee has admitted that it does not know enough about the potential risks and will continue to keep the products under review in the following months. There have also been multiple reports of CBD products containing potentially hazardous ingredients or illegal levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, or even little trace of CBD extract itself.
The FSA has also advised that those who are pregnant, breastfeeding or taking any medication should not consume any CBD products, and healthy adults should carefully consider their intake of CBD products and limit their intake to no more than 70mg a day (unless medically directed otherwise). The regulator has also stressed the requirement for CBD businesses to "provide more information about the safety and contents of the products" to the regulator before 31 March 2021.
The FSA has stated that today's announcement does not affect individuals taking prescribed CBD or cannabis or CBD cosmetics and vaping products. Whilst the categorisation of CBD as a "novel food" originates from the European Commission, there is no intention for this to be disregarded by the Government, following the UK's exit from the European Union.
We expect CBD businesses to now take steps to consider their sale of CBD products and proceed with any novel food authorisation application to the FSA.
The requirements for such applications (which have to be submitted to the European Food Safety Authority in accordance with the EU Regulation on Novel Foods (EU) 2015/2283) will need to contain detailed information on the production process for, the composition of the CBD product, and scientific evidence that it does not pose a safety risk to human health.
Please contact Martyn Hann if you require any further information or assistance with the sale of CBD products.