The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has created a list of more than 3,500 cannabidiol (CBD)-infused food products, bringing them one step closer to being cleared under government plans to take over a thriving industry.
CBD extracts are widely available in UK shops, cafes and online in the form of oils, drops, gels, confectionery, baked goods and drinks. The FSA is responsible for food safety and hygiene in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The move is a wake-up call for businesses, as interest in CBD products has accelerated in recent years, infiltrating the world of medicine and hailed by many as the latest health trend.
“Today we have taken the next step in our pragmatic approach to ensuring that CBD products are safe and what they say they are,” said FSA Chief Executive Emily Miles. “If a product is not on the list, it should be removed from sale because it is not attached to a credible marketing authorization application.”
The list was first published in April 2021 and has been periodically updated – this time in the hope that authorities, retailers and consumers can make informed decisions.
But validation is only the first step. CBD products on the list must undergo further stages of assessment before being allowed, the FSA said, which is unlikely to happen before 2023.
In the first consumer safety notice of 2020, the regulator warned against pregnant women, nursing mothers and people on medication eating foods containing CBD, and warned against consuming more than 70mg per day for healthy adults.
The announcement was also an attempt to tighten up a market plagued by unauthorized products and reassure the public, the regulator said, while citing concerns about the lack of studies on CBD when consumed as food. .
“In the absence of evidence, we believe we are trying to be proportionate,” Miles said.
According to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO), CBD does not exhibit any effects of abuse or dependence and is generally well tolerated. “To date, there is no evidence of recreational use of CBD or public health concerns associated with the use of pure CBD,” the 2017 report states.
Classified as a ‘novel’ food, or a food that was not consumed by people in Britain or the EU before May 1997, CBD products must be approved before they are placed on the market. The novel food status of CBD products was first confirmed in January 2019. Companies had almost a year to apply for marketing authorization, by March 2021, or be removed from the market .
More than 700 marketing authorization applications for cannabis-derived products have been rejected in the past year, the regulator said.
“Five years after interest started to explode in this product, we still don’t know if CBD products are actually beneficial, only clearance from the FSA means they are safe to take,” said Harry Sumnall, Professor of Addiction at Liverpool John Moores University. .
“To be fair, CBD is a relatively safe drug anyway,” he said, adding that in a wellness industry where branding is key, “it’s It’s a shame that we may have missed an opportunity with CBD to actually look at some of the efficacy around this product.”
Industry experts such as the Association for the Cannabinoid Industry, a consortium of companies, have estimated the UK consumer cannabidiol sector in 2021 to be worth £690 million, making it the second largest after United States.
In 2018, the government approved the prescription of cannabis-based medicines following a series of high-profile cases of children being denied access to cannabis oil to treat epilepsy.