CBD regulations to provide ‘additional clarity’

14th February, 2020 by Nicola Carruthers

The CBD-based drinks industry has welcomed the Food Standards Agency’s decision to remove CBD products that fail to provide information about their contents from store shelves.

CBD products are subject to authorisation applications from the Food Standards Agency

The UK’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) is giving the cannabidiol (CBD) industry a deadline of 31 March 2021 to submit valid novel food authorisation applications. CBD was confirmed as a novel food product in January 2019.

After this deadline, only products that have submitted a valid claim will be allowed to remain on the market. The process ensures novel foods meet legal standards, including on safety and content.

CBD businesses can continue to sell their existing CBD products provided that they are correctly labelled, are not unsafe to eat and do not contain substances that fall under drugs legislation.

The FSA’s announcement relates to products in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Scotland’s novel food rules are covered by Food Standards Scotland.

In addition, the FSA is now advising those who are pregnant, breastfeeding or taking any medication not to consume CBD products. For adults, the FSA recommends no more than 70mg a day (about 28 drops of 5% CBD) unless under medical direction. This advice is based on recent findings from the government’s committee on toxicity (COT).

Emily Miles, chief executive of FSA, said: “CBD products are widely available on the high street but are not properly authorised. The CBD industry must provide more information about the safety and contents of these products to the regulator before 31 March 2021, or the products will be taken off the shelves.

“The actions that we’re taking today are a pragmatic and proportionate step in balancing the protection of public health with consumer choice. It’s now up to industry to supply this information so that the public can be reassured that CBD is safe and what it says it is.”

Industry response

UK-based CBD specialist Oto welcomed the announcement and the “additional clarity it brings”.

“Sadly, there are too many CBD brands out there whose products aren’t up to standard, so today’s announcement is good for both the consumer and for the CBD industry as a whole,” said Gemma Colao, managing director and founder of Oto.

“Improved regulatory framework will enhance the CBD industry’s credibility and ensure only reputable and effective products are available within the market.

“This is a positive first step and the guidance offered for maximum daily usage reflects our own research of a recommended intake of between 40-60mg of CBD per day, which is sufficient to allow consumers to benefit from CBD.”

Nicholas Pullen, co-founder of CBD spirits producer Top Beverages, believes the ruling “will weed out many of the bad actors that permeate the CBD space”.

He said: “The guidance issued today has mirrored the founding principle of Top Beverages, which is radical transparency.

“Top [Beverages] has been the gold standard as it relates to the sourcing, testing and disclosure of all relevant aspects of CBD within its spirits. We have invested tens of thousands of pounds into legal, food safety and testing to develop protocols to insure the quality of our products.”

Spiros Malandrakis, head of alcoholic drinks research at market researcher Euromonitor International, said: “Some legislative guidance and control should be welcomed considering the explosion of largely unregulated – and in many cases misleading – products currently flooding the market.

“While this development might add barriers to entry and increase red tape, I still think that the category’s oversaturation, hyperbolic claims and ubiquitous visibility is the key threat in the medium-term.

“In the long-term, the conversation, innovative experimentation and disruption will gravitate from a single cannabinoid to all of them and from CBD fads to a holistic embrace of cannabis both as an alcohol alternative and – ultimately – an additive.”

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