In our August 2019 client alert, we highlighted the fact that the EU had added a new entry for cannabinoids to the Novel Food Catalogue and the Food Standards Agency had responded that it accepted the EU’s clarification that CBD extracts are novel foods. As a result, local authorities in England have the power to seize and inspect suspected unauthorised foods containing CBD, issue compliance and stop notices requiring products to be removed from sale e.g. where there is reason to suspect consumers could be harmed, and to impose fines. The FSA said, however that it was ‘committed to finding a proportionate way forward by working with local authorities, businesses and consumers to clarify how to achieve compliance in the marketplace in a proportionate manner’. 

On 13th February, the FSA announced that it was giving the CBD industry a deadline of 31 March 2021 to submit valid novel food authorisation applications and that after that date, only products which have submitted a valid application would be allowed to remain on the market. Until then, businesses should be able to sell their existing CBD products provided they are not incorrectly labelled, are not unsafe to eat and do not contain substances that fall under drugs legislation (please see our client alert for guidance on products that fall under drugs legislation). The FSA has also advised people who are pregnant, breastfeeding or taking any medication not to consume CBD products and that healthy adults should take no more than 70 mg a day unless under medical direction.

As the announcement highlights, the new guidance does not apply to other popular uses of CBD, such as in cosmetic and vaping products. 

By issuing this guidance, the FSA has shown that it is starting to express an increased interest in overseeing the sale of consumable CBD products, and we would expect to this trend to continue in respect of other types of CBD products.