The UK’s Food Standards Authority (SA) told The Times the week that it will enforce Novel Food rules for cannabidiol (CBD) based products. 

The newspaper reports that the regulator is alarmed by the boom in CBD food, supplement and cosmetic products and says it “expects companies to comply with the novel foods process, which includes submitting safety information about their products”. 

The classification of CBD earlier this as Novel Food has been roundly criticised by large parts of the natural products industry in the UK, with one CBD trade group previously declaring that it would defy FSA efforts to enforce compliance with Novel Food rules. 

While the FSA says it continues to seek a “proportionate” approach to regulating CBD products, its view, restated the week, that Novel Foods rules apply to many CBD products currently on sale – including requirements on companies to put products through pre-market assessment and obtain  authorisations – will set off alarm bells.

Shannett Thompson, a senior associate at the legal firm Kingsley Napley, told The Times: “Any products that have not been assessed and authorised could technically be removed from the shelves by trading standards officers.” She said this situation was likely to continue in the UK, even after  Britain leaves the EU.  

“Push for medicines control of CBD should be resisted”
One of the campaign groups that has been warning about penalties for consumers and industry of “disproportionate” regulation of CBD and hemp products is Alliance for Natural Health International. In a new assessment of the subject, the group warns that the “push for medicines control and novel food exclusion of CBD” on both sides of Atlantic” must be challenged. 

ANH founder & executive coordinator, Robert Verkerk PhD (pictured), writes: “There is nothing new or novel about CBD. Our endocannabinoid system is built to respond to it when it’s produced internally and, surprise, surprise, certain plants also produce it. No one’s planned to ban soya because of the phytoestrogen levels, despite much less evidence of benefit and more pointing to potential risks, as compared with hemp and CBD.

“The twist of the law that the regulators have found argues that new, more powerful extraction methods, such as supercritical extraction which relies on carbon dioxide, are being applied to concentrate the CBD at levels considerably above those found in seed oil. This is true – but concentration of oils, including supercritical extractions, has been used for years in a gamut of other edible plant oils.

“…While there may be real concerns about the quality of some CBD extracts on the market, the (mis)use of novel food law to raise safety concerns, is nothing short of a ruse.”