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UK’s Food Standards Agency Begins Processing CBD Applications

By Leo Bear-McGuinness

Published: Apr 22, 2021   
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The UK’s de facto CBD regulator has begun approving CBD food products for sale in England and Wales.

As of April 22, 23 products from three different companies have been given an initial approval from the country’s Food Standards Agency (FSA).

The FSA began its crackdown on CBD foods last year when it announced that all oils, drinks, and treats containing the popular cannabinoid would be “taken off the shelves” by April 2021 if the manufacturer hadn’t submitted a novel foods application to the FSA by March 31.

Since then, hundreds of CBD companies are thought to have applied for a novel foods status. But without a confirmed validation from the FSA, many of these companies could still one day face enforcement actions and have their products “taken off the shelves.”

A waiting game

In a statement on April 19, the FSA made clear that the current list of approved CBD products is “subject to change” and will be updated on a weekly basis as more products gain FSA approval. The final full list is expected to be complete by June 2021.

The three companies with current CBD validations include Pureis, CBDex, and 4MP.

“Products on the list that have been linked to a validated or on hold application will now undergo a full safety assessment so that a final decision can be made,” Emily Miles, chief executive of the FSA, said in a statement.

“When complete, the list can be used by suppliers and retailers to confirm the status of particular products and to help local authorities inform their enforcement decisions,” she continued.

So, for the many hundreds of CBD companies that have filed a novel foods application, it seems that June 2021 is the cutoff point for retail enforcement. If not on the final list by then, a company’s CBD products could indeed be “taken off the shelves” by local authorities.

“This is about bringing the CBD industry into compliance with the law,” Miles wrote in her statement.

“Consumers need to be able to trust that these products are safe and are what they say they are. Companies were given until the end of March to submit their applications for safety assessment. Those who haven’t done this should take their products off the market.”

The FSA makes clear that receiving an initial validation and joining the list does not mean that a company’s CBD products are authorized novel foods and confirmed as safe for consumption, only that the business has provided the regulator with adequate data to progress its application. The full novel foods authorization process is expected to take at least a year before a final decision is made.

Admin checks

When the FSA first announced its incoming enforcement last February, the agency stated that a company’s novel foods application would have to be “validated” by March 31, 2021. Then, with just weeks to go before the deadline, the FSA clarified that all applications just have to be “submitted” by the end of March.

The change of phrasing was welcomed by many in the UK’s CBD sector who were concerned that many companies had not had the time to produce a “validated” dossier of data on their CBD products.

The FSA’s last announcement also clarified that all novel foods applications will be subject to an eight-day admin check, followed by a validation process that could take up to 30 working days.

“Passing an admin check only means that an application is able to move on to the validation stage, it does not give an indication of whether it will be validated,” an FSA spokesperson told Analytical Cannabis at the time. “Validated applications may not end up being authorised if the information provided does not allow the independent expert scientific committees to assess safety.”

“Applications which do not meet the criteria required to pass the admin check are given feedback on information missing and invited to resubmit,” the spokesperson added.


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