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Urgent call from FSA for CBD brands to submit novel food applications

CBD brands must submit their novel food applications to the Food Standards Agency (FSA) before the deadline of March 31st. Failure to file applications before this date will mean they are trading CBD products illegally.

This deadline comes on the back of the European Commission’s (EC) decision to classify CBD products as novel foods in January 2019. The classification of cannabidiol (CBD) as a novel food has had significant ramifications for the CBD industry, however, it did take CBD and hemp-derived products out of the legal grey area they had previously been in.

The proliferation of CBD as a popular health supplement in the last two decades was met with mixed reactions from both authorities and policymakers of different EU member states. This cannabinoid derived from the cannabis sativa plant was often misperceived as intoxicating. Mainly due to its relationship to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient found in cannabis.

CBD novel food applications must be compliant with the Food Safety Authority

Legally deeming CBD a novel food in both EU and UK jurisdiction, has in effect, cleared up a lot of misconceptions about CBD and its legality. It has also introduced a framework and a regulatory body, the FSA, which CBD producers must comply with.

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A novel food can be defined as any food or food ingredient which does not have a history of consumption before May 1997. As such, all novel foods must register applications with the FSA.

Urgent call from FSA for CBD producers to get applications submitted

This call from the FSA comes amidst concerns that the organisation has not received as many applications as they had expected by this time. Applications are also subjected to an 8-day admin check, and then it can take up to 30 working days for the application to be validated.

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Due to the slow rollout of application validation, the FSA has decided to allow all products linked to an application submitted before March 31st to continue trading, even if those applications have not yet been fully validated.

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Emily Miles, Chief Executive of the Food Standards Agency, said this:

‘Applying for novel food authorisation is the only way CBD products can remain on sale here. For the past year, we’ve been encouraging all businesses to submit good quality applications as a matter of urgency.

‘However, we have received a large number of applications close to the deadline. In order to process these properly, we are adapting the criteria of products allowed to remain on sale from 1 April.

The decision from the FSA to allow CBD producers with pending applications to continue to legally trade is in line with a pragmatic and proportionate strategy the authority has been deploying during this transition. They have expressed that their commitment lies in ensuring consumers know these products are regulated and safe. They have no interest in unduly penalising CBD producers during this period of adjustment.

Josephine Gibney

Josephine Gibney is a freelance writer from Waterford. She has worked as a lifestyle reporter, a creative copywriter and a communications specialist over the last ten years. Her short fiction was longlisted for the 2020 Sean O’Faolain Prize and she is currently working on her first novel.

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