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FSA sets deadline for CBD brands to submit novel food applications

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The Food Standards Agency has announced a deadline for the CBD industry to provide safety information as part of the ongoing Novel Foods legislation.

The organisation has set March 31, 2021 as the deadline for the industry to submit valid novel food authorisation applications, adding that after that date, only products which have submitted a valid application will be allowed to remain on the market.

In addition, the FSA has issued guidance for those who are pregnant, breastfeeding or taking any medication not to consume CBD products. Healthy adults are also advised to think carefully before taking CBD, and the FSA recommended no more than 70mg a day (about 28 drops of 5% CBD) unless under medical direction. This new precautionary advice is based on recent findings by the Government’s Committee on Toxicity (COT), the FSA said.

Emily Miles, Chief Executive of the FSA, commented: “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. Also today, we are advising that CBD could be risky for vulnerable groups, and suggesting an upper limit of 70mg a day for everyone else taking the product.

“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.”

Professor Alan Boobis, Chair of the Committee on Toxicity, added: “My committee has reviewed the evidence on CBD food products and found evidence there are potential adverse health effects from the consumption of these products. We are particularly concerned about pregnant or breastfeeding women and people on medication. “We don’t know enough to be sure about such a risk but I am pleased with the sensible and pragmatic approach the FSA is taking. The committee will continue to keep these products under review in the months ahead.”

Responding to the news, the Health Food Manufacturers’ Association (HFMA) said in a statement: “The Health Food Manufacturers’ Association is the largest industry body representing the responsible food supplements industry, and many of our members market CBD supplements. Our primary concern is for the protection of consumers and responsible management of any risks by our industry. We are, therefore, pleased to say that the Food Standards Agency will be meeting with us shortly and we are looking forward to a productive discussion with them.

“The FSA has previously stated on several occasions that, to date, it has no evidence to suggest consumption of CBD poses any food safety risk to consumers, so we are confident that a proportionate approach to these issues should continue. We acknowledge the challenges facing regulators and the responsible industry we represent, and we will be working with our member companies and the FSA to agree on a pragmatic approach to addressing those concerns when we meet.”

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