AFTER a delay of exactly one year the long-awaited Public List of validated UK CBD products has been published by the Food Standards Agency.
This shows that around some 3,500 products are still permitted for sale in the UK – with ‘many thousands’ more now no longer allowed.
The initial deadline for the publication of the list was March 31, 2021, although FSA Chief Executive Office Emily Miles contended in a media call yesterday that the list was ‘not late’ – and the delay was due to poor quality applications.
Novel Food Scorecard
The UK CBD Novel Food figures breakdown as follows:
-The FSA says it received over 900 novel food applications for CBD. 680 of these were rejected. A further 42 were withdrawn by the applicant.
-Seven applications have passed through to the risk assessment phase
-175 applications are at the pre-validation stage
-Of these 65 applications are at the on-hold stage with the FSA awaiting further information from the applicants
-This leaves a further 110 applications which are not on the Public List. The FSA says this is because they were either submitted after March 31, 2021, or they have not been able to satisfy the FSA that the ‘products in the application were on sale before February 2020’.
In anticipation of the release of the list the FSA held a media call with various members of the national and trade press yesterday (Wednesday March 30), with the central theme of the briefing being the need for enforcement by retailers and local authorities.
To deliver compliance and remove the ‘many thousands’ of products which failed to make the grade the FSA is set to rely on Trading Standards and the nation’s large and small retailers.
Ms Miles said: “Tomorrow we will be releasing the confirmed list of CBD products one step closer to being authorised.
“We are calling on the industry, retailers and local authorities to bring the CBD market into compliance by prioritising the removal from sale of products not on the list.
“While inclusion on the list is no guarantee of authorisation…we wanted to take the step of publishing the list so local authorities, retailers and consumers can make informed judgements about what they stock, and buy, in order to bring this rapidly growing market into compliance with the law.”
While many large retailers will be able to swiftly align their product profiles, closing down on-line CBD brand websites will pose more of a challenge, and, following successive rounds of cuts, there is much scepticism over the ability of local councils to enforce the FSA’s request.
During the call the FSA acknowledged it did not expect to see a ‘big bang’ of enforcement rather that it expected local authorities to develop ‘their responses proportionately’ and ‘prioritise appropriately’.
Nevertheless, the development places the UK at the forefront of developing a regulated CBD industry, a point taken up by Mariam Zamaray, CEO of Pure Functionals, a developer and producer of innovative CBD and nature-based products.
She said: “This is a major landmark in the regulation and certification of CBD products. The publication of this list is a long over-due recognition of a consumer need for standardisation and confidence in products on the market, allowing people to make informed decisions on the choices available, as well as demonstrating the growing role of CBD in their everyday health and wellness routines.”
List ‘Not Late’
When answering BusinessCann’s questions on why the publication was a year late Ms Miles chose to refer to the failings of the industry.
“The big story here is the quality of applications we received was not very good. Normally it would take a few weeks to get through to the validation phase but it has taken a lot longer.
“In my view we have been quite generous. What we have is a set of applications with which we are still waiting evidence.
“They have shown there is a strong chance of bringing forward that evidence before the end of this year…I wouldn’t say we were late. We were giving these companies an opportunity to give the evidence and be fair with them.”
During the press briefing BusinessCann also pressed the FSA on why it felt it was necessary to pursue this pathway when there are little-to-no reports of adverse reaction to CBD use.
Is CBD Safe?
Ms Miles said it relied on the evidence of its scientific advisers, the Committee on Toxicity, and as it was unable to determine a clear risk, versus safety assessment the FSA needed to develop a ‘proportionate response’ to protect consumers.
As a result, in February 2020, when it set the initial March 31, 2021, deadline for applications it also advised healthy adults to take no more than 70mg of CBD per day.
This has led to the scores of CBD businesses undertaking expensive tests on animals to inform on the safety profile of CBD with these findings to be examined in the FSA risk assessment phase.
With those products on the on-hold section of the list still to be validated, and then subject to a risk assessment it may be at least another year before the FSA finally has a list of fully-compliant CBD products. Those suppliers whose products fail to satisfy the regulators will be removed from the List.
In relation to the 110 applications which were either too late or did not have products on the market before the February 2020 cut-off date the FSA says these products should be withdrawn from sale
“These cannot be included on the public list because the application was not made by our March 2021 deadline. Therefore this also means that while the application can move through the process, the business should be removing their products from sale and should only put them back on the market if their application is eventually authorised.
“So we will continue to accept CBD novel food applications but the products linked to these should not be put on the market until the application is authorised – which is the way the novel food system usually works,” it says.
@BusinessCann will be providing further reactions from the industry to these developments in due course
@To view the list click on the link in this FSA statement; https://www.food.gov.uk/business-guidance/cbd-products-linked-to-novel-food-applications