FSA Sets 2021 Deadline for CBD Novel Food Application

British Food Standards Agency sets a deadline for the CBD industry and issues health warnings. In order to stay on the market, all CBD products will have to be authorized by the FSA, and only medically prescribed CBD containing THC or other cannabinoids will be legal in the UK.

2021 FSA Deadline

On 13th February 2020, UK’s The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has issued an announcement giving the CBD industry a deadline of 31 March 2021 to submit valid novel food authorization applications. After 31 March next year, only products that have submitted a valid application will be allowed to remain on the market.

The authorization process ensures novel foods meet legal standards, including safety and content. Local authorities enforce the novel food legislation. They have been advised that businesses should be able to sell their existing CBD products during this time provided they are not incorrectly labeled, are not unsafe to eat and do not contain substances that fall under drugs legislation. Despite rising sales of CBD products such as CBD oil, snacks and drinks, no products containing CBD are currently approved by the FSA.

Emily Miles, Chief Executive of the Food Standards Agency, said: “CBD products are widely available on the high street but are not properly authorized. 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”.

FSA Guidance on CBD Products

In addition, the FSA has advised those who are pregnant, breastfeeding or taking any medication not to consume CBD products. Healthy adults are also advised to think carefully before taking CBD, and the FSA recommends no more than 70mg a day (about 28 drops of 5% CBD) unless under medical direction. This new precautionary advice is based on recent findings by the government’s Committee on Toxicity (COT).

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

Potential health effects

Professor Alan Boobis, Chair of the Committee on Toxicity, said: “My committee has reviewed the evidence on CBD food products and found evidence there are potential adverse health effects from the consumption of these products. We are particularly concerned about pregnant or breast-feeding women and people on medication. We don’t know enough to be sure about such a risk but I am pleased with the sensible and pragmatic approach the FSA is taking. The committee will continue to keep these products under review in the months ahead.”

The announcement by the FSA on CBD extracts applies in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Novel food regulations in Scotland are covered by Food Standards Scotland. The FSA is responsible for regulating CBD as a novel food. This does not include cosmetics, vapes, products making medicinal claims or products containing controlled drugs such as THC. The CBD extracts containing THC or other controlled cannabinoids will likely fall under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, and further guidance for those is available from the Home Office, which has provided a factsheet on Cannabis, CBD and other cannabinoids.

There will be no impact from this announcement on those who take medically prescribed CBD or cannabis. Enforcement The FSA is the Central Competent Authority (CCA) for food safety, however, local authorities are responsible for the day to day enforcement of food law. The FSA issues guidance to support consistency in approach, but ultimately it is for local authorities to make specific enforcement decisions based on the facts of individual cases and circumstances.

Reviewed by Sasha Bajilo, founder of ILESOL Pharmaceuticals, an industrial scale producer of CBD products and formulations. Expert on Hemp/Cannabis policy, member of the Croatian Ministry of Health regulatory commission for medical cannabis.