Posted: 12/03/2020

Retailers safe to stock existing CBD products for at least one year, says FSA


Retailers currently stocking CBD food products can relax for now after the Food Standards Agency (FSA) issued new guidelines for producers. 

The watchdog has set a deadline of 31st March 2021 for CBD food producers to provide more information about their products and said that businesses can continue selling existing lines until the cut-off.

As previously reported in FFD, almost all CBD foods were not vetted as safe for consumption and retailers stocking the ‘novel food’ were running the risk of having the lines confiscated. 

However, a spokesperson for the FSA said: “Businesses should be able to sell CBD products during the interim, provided they are not incorrectly labelled, are not unsafe to eat and do not contain controlled substances.”

The government agency has also advised expectant and new mothers, and people taking medication not to consume the currently unauthorised extracts, and that healthy adults do not consume more than 70mg of CBD a day – equivalent to 28 drops of 5% extract.

The watchdog’s spokesperson added: “We are continuing to review the safety information and if we find evidence that any CBD products pose a significant safety risk, we will use our powers to remove them from shelves.”

Despite the fact that Brexit is underway, the FSA has told producers of CBD foodstuffs that they must submit valid novel food authorisation applications to the European Food Safety Authority, or face being removed from the market. 

The FSA has said that during the transition period the responsibility for processing novel food applications still lies with Europe. However, it has strongly recommended that businesses also submit applications to them, as following Brexit’s completion the authority will return to the agency. 

Emily Miles, chief executive of the FSA, added: “The actions that we’re taking are a pragmatic and proportionate step in balancing the protection of public health with consumer choice.  It’s now up to industry to supply this information so that the public can be reassured that CBD is safe.”

• The FSA has provided guidelines on what needs to be included in an application on their website – food.gov.uk/business-guidance/cannabidiol-cbd

CBD: the facts

  • Novel foods are foods not widely consumed by people in the EU before May 1997.
  • Before the food can be legally marketed in the EU, novel foods are required to have a safety assessment under EU regulations.
  • The novel food status of CBD extracts was confirmed in January 2019.
  • CBD is one of a group of chemicals called cannabinoids. It is found within hemp and cannabis.
  • CBD extracts can be derived from hemp or cannabis plants. They are selectively extracted, concentrating CBD and removing or reducing other chemicals. 
  • Hemp and related products, such as cold-pressed oils, are not novel because there is evidence to show a history of consumption before May 1997. This is not the case for CBD extracts.

This story appeared in the March issue of Fine Food Digest. You can read more on the digital edition here.

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