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UK’s Food Standards Agency Offers Concrete Guidance on CBD

In January 2019, the European Commission confirmed that CBD is considered a “novel food” in the EU.  A “novel food” is defined as “food that had not been consumed to a significant degree by humans in the EU before 15 May 1997.” Why is this important? Because “novel foods” must be authorized by the European Commission prior to entering the European market. To date, no CBD isolate or extract has been authorized by the Commission, which means that CBD is not permitted in food or food supplements in any EU member state.


How are UK regulators responding to the growing CBD market?

Last week, the UK’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) announced that, by March 31, 2021, CBD businesses will need to submit, and have fully validated, novel food authorization applications for their CBD products. After March 31, 2021, only those businesses with valid applications will be allowed to remain on the UK market.


What about CBD products currently offered for sale in the UK?

Between now and March 31, 2021, the FSA will allow businesses to continue to sell their existing CBD products, provided that these products are not mislabeled, unsafe, or contain substances that would be considered drugs. However, CBD companies should not introduce new CBD products into the UK market. In its recent guidance, the FSA also notes that, unlike CBD extracts, cold-pressed hemp oils are not “novel” because there is evidence to show a history of consumption before May 1997. Therefore, these products may be readily sold in the UK.


The FSA also offers specific guidance to UK consumers.

The agency advises vulnerable groups, including pregnant women and persons taking medication, to use CBD only under the direction of a medical professional. The FSA recommends that healthy individuals “not take more than 70mg a day, unless a doctor agrees more. This is about 28 drops of 5% CBD.” The agency warns that “[t]his doesn’t mean that these levels are definitely safe, but that the evidence we have suggests adverse health effects could potentially be seen above this.”


What about Brexit?

Good question! The UK has left the EU and, until the end of 2020, is in a transition period. With respect to “novel foods,” the UK has drafted its own novel food regulation that will go into effect on “exit day.” This regulation, which appears to mirror the EU’s novel food regulation, will likely not change the FSA’s approach towards novel foods, including CBD.


As regulators begin to offer concrete guidance on CBD, G2 helps its clients mitigate risk while taking advantage of this growing market. To learn more about CBD risk mitigation, download G2’s CBD e-book.

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