The UK Food Standards Agency sets deadline for the CBD industry and provides safety advice to consumers

Eveline Van Keymeulen

On 13 February 2020, the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) issued safety advice to users and set a deadline for businesses regarding cannabidiol (CBD) products under its supervision (i.e. mainly CBD oil, drops, foods and supplements).

Noting the lack of information on the safety and contents of CBD products currently marketed in the UK, FSA has set a compliance deadline for the CBD food industry: businesses must submit a valid novel food application (under EU Regulation n°2015/2283) by 31 March 2021 – thereby providing the required information on the product characteristics. Should they fail to do so, the local authorities in charge of enforcing food regulations would have the power to ban non-compliant products from sales, for lack of a valid pre-market authorisation. The Food Standards Agency have indicated that they will use this power to require non-compliant products to be removed from the shelves. No valid novel food application has been received by the Food Standards Agency to date.

Until then, businesses will benefit from an official grace period to comply and will be able to keep selling their products, provided they are correctly labelled, are safe for consumption, and do not contain controlled substances (such as THC).

The Agency also issued a health warning to users, advising them not to consume more than 70mg of CBD per day (which equates to 28 drops of 5% CBD). It also discouraged vulnerable populations such as pregnant or breastfeeding women, as well as people on medication, from taking such products, in light of recent findings on possible adverse health effects from the government’s Committee on Toxicity.

It should be noted that this announcement does not impact medically prescribed CBD and cannabis, nor products such as cosmetics or vapes.

Finally, the Association for the Cannabinoid Industry (ACI) has responded positively to the announcement, stating that it gives the industry clarity on the matter, and is a much-awaited first step towards “the development of a safe and legally compliant CBD industry”, all the more so as the CBD market is growing rapidly in the UK – recent surveys showing that between 8 and 11 % of UK adults have tried CBD at one point, and more than 1.6 million of them consider themselves regular users.

This article was co-authored by Alexandra Laure.

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