FSA to remove CBD products from sale


The UK’s FSA (Food Standard Agency) have issued a deadline to CBD businesses to submit a novel food application for their product’s or have them removed from the shelves.

The deadline, is set for the 31st of March 2021 requires UK CBD wholesalers as well as the farmers who act as retailers, from England, Wales and Northern Ireland, to submit a novel food application for each of their products or face having products removed by the local authorities.

The definition of a Novel foods is one that was not used for human consumption to a significant degree before to May 1997. Following a recent change to the EU novel foods catalogue in January 2019, CBD, which is considered a food supplement was deemed to be a novel food.

The FSA state that this application will ensure CBD products “meet legal standards and ensure safety”. Critics, on the other hand, believe it will put an end to small businesses benefiting from this emerging multi-million-pound industry.  The European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA), have submitted evidence to show that CBD and other cannabinoid extracts are not a novel food and that they were widely used prior to 1997.

Emily Miles, Chief Executive of the Food Standards Agency, said: “CBD products are widely available on the high street but are not properly authorised. The CBD industry must provide more information about the safety and contents of these products to the regulator before 31 March 2021, or the products will be taken off the shelves.”

Local authorities will be responsible for enforcing the novel food legislation and the FSA have been advised that businesses should be able to sell their existing CBD products during this time provided they are correctly labelled, are safe to eat and do not contain substances that fall under drugs legislation.

What impact will this have on the CBD industry?

The CBD market has exploded from zero to £300 million in the last few years. The market was created by consumer demand for legal access to the medicinal benefits of cannabis and built by a group of small, entrepreneurial businesses who are passionate in the hemp plant and dedicated in delivering products at an affordable price for the average person

The novel food status of CBD has been a huge blow for the CBD industry, having been told that CBD is a legal food supplement as long as the THC content was below 1mg per container. CBD companies were told they were free to sell the products as long as they did not to make any medical claims.

The FSA have also issued the first ever safety advice to for pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers and people taking medication, warning against eating foods containing an ingredient derived from the cannabis plant. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) also cautions others not to have more than 70mg a day.

However The World Health Organization (WHO) report has found no adverse health outcomes but rather several medical applications for cannabidiol, (CBD), The “potential adverse health effects” they refer to are based on dosages of 10 to 1000 times the recommended daily dose of CBD as a food supplement. The warning about pregnant or breast-feeding women is completely unjustifed when compared to any other food or drink they might consume.

 In 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) published ‘Cannabidiol (CBD) Pre-Review Report’ stating “CBD is safe and well tolerated in humans (and animals), and is not associated with any negative public health effects…does not induce physical dependence and is not associated with abuse potential.” 

Thursday’s announcement does not affect people who take medically prescribed CBD or cannabis, the FSA said.

What are your thoughts on this?