After a delay of exactly one year, the Food Standards Agency has released the long-awaited list of validated CBD products in the UK.
It shows that around 3,500 products are still authorized for sale in the UK – and “several thousand” more are now no longer authorized.
The original deadline for publishing the list was March 31, 2021, although FSA Director General Emily Miles claimed at a press conference yesterday that the list was ‘not overdue’ and that the delay was due to the poor quality of the applications.
The FSA says it has received more than 900 applications for approval of novel CBD foods. 680 of them were rejected. 42 others were withdrawn by the plaintiff.
Seven applications have progressed to the risk assessment phase and 175 applications are at the pre-validation stage.
Of these, 65 claims are pending, with the FSA awaiting further information from claimants.
This leaves another 110 requests that are not on the public list. The FSA explains that this is because they were submitted after March 31, 2021 or they were unable to prove to the FSA that the “demand products were on sale before February 2020” .
Ahead of the publication of the list, the FSA held a press conference on Wednesday 30 March with various members of the national and trade press, the central theme of which was the need for enforcement by retailers and local authorities. .
To ensure compliance and remove the “thousands” of products that have failed, the FSA will rely on retailers large and small across the country.
Ms Miles said: “Tomorrow we will publish the confirmed list of CBD products on the way to approval. »
“We call on industry, retailers and local authorities to bring the CBD market into compliance by prioritizing the removal from sale of products that are not on the list.
“Although inclusion on the list is not a guarantee of clearance, we wanted to take the initiative to publish the list so that local authorities, retailers and consumers can make informed judgments about what they store and buy, in order to bring this rapidly growing market into compliance with the law. »
While many large retailers will be able to quickly align their products, the closure of online CBD brand websites will pose more challenges and there is great doubt as to the ability of local councils to enforce the demand of the FSA.
During the appeal, the FSA acknowledged that it did not expect a ‘big bang’ of enforcement, but rather that local authorities craft their responses ‘proportionately’ and ‘ prioritize appropriately.”
Nonetheless, this development puts the UK at the forefront of the development of a regulated CBD industry, a point echoed by Mariam Zamaray, CEO of Pure Functionals, a developer and producer of CBD products.
She said: “This is a major milestone in the regulation and certification of CBD products. The publication of this list is a long-awaited recognition of a consumer need for standardization and trust in products on the market, allowing people to make informed decisions about the choices available, as well as demonstrating the role growing CBD in their daily health and wellness routines. »
A “not late” list
When answering BusinessCann’s questions about why the release was a year late, Ms Miles chose to refer to industry failings.
“The big story here is that the quality of applications we received was not very good. Normally, it would take a few weeks to go through the validation phase, but it took much longer. »
“In my opinion, we have been quite generous. What we have is a set of claims for which we are still awaiting evidence. »
“They showed they had a strong chance of presenting that evidence before the end of the year… I wouldn’t say we were late. We gave these companies the opportunity to provide evidence and we were fair to them. »
During the press conference, BusinessCann also asked the FSA why it was necessary to pursue this course when there are few to no reports of adverse effects from CBD use.
Is CBD safe?
Ms Miles said the FSA relied on evidence provided by its scientific advisers, the Toxicity Committee, and that since it was unable to determine a clear risk from the assessment safety, the FSA needed to craft a “proportionate response” to protect consumers.
Therefore, in February 2020, when she set the initial deadline of March 31, 2021 for applications, she also advised healthy adults to take no more than 70 mg of CBD per day.
This has led many CBD companies to undertake expensive animal testing to determine the safety profile of CBD, with these results to be considered during the FSA’s risk assessment phase.
Since products in the ‘pending’ section of the list still need to be validated and then subjected to a risk assessment, it may be at least another year before the FSA finally has a list of fully compliant CBD products. Suppliers whose products do not satisfy regulators will be removed from the list.
Regarding the 110 applications that were filed too late or whose products were not on the market by the February 2020 deadline, 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 forward in the process, the company must withdraw its products from sale and must only put them back on the market if its application is finally authorized. »
“We will therefore continue to accept applications for the marketing authorization of a new CBD food, but products linked to these applications should not be placed on the market until the application has been authorized, which is the usual mode of operation of the novel food system. »