On 31 March, the FSA published a list of more than 3,500 products containing CBD that had a credible application for authorisation as Novel Foods.
The group emphasised that it did not endorse the products on the list and that inclusion on the list did not guarantee that they would be authorised as they had not yet been fully assessed for safety.
Emily Miles, FSA chief executive, said: “We have taken the step of publishing the list so that local authorities, retailers and consumers can make informed judgments about what they stock and buy, as we gradually bring this growing market into compliance with the law.”
Representing the industry
The Association for the Cannabinoid Industry (ACI) welcomed the publication of the list. The group's members accounted for about 64% of the applications made to the FSA since its consultation in CBD products was launched in 2020.
Steve Moore, ACI founder, commented: “The FSA public list represents a major milestone for the UK’s CBD category. It demonstrates the progress the sector has made to meet compliance requirements and creates greater regulatory certainty which, in turn, will increase levels of consumer trust, encourage investment in the sector, and promote innovation.
“Obviously there are casualties today. There are a large number of high-profile products that have not made the list and are now subject to enforcement.”
“From a business perspective there’s an excitement about the potential for investment in this category and the innovation that will support in the coming years. We now have a new category that will continue to invest in regulatory process, but also the innovation process and there’s a symbiotic link between the two."
ACI predicted investment in CBD novel foods would increase at the end of 2023, once authorisation for the products on the FSA list started to trickle through.
Adam Pritchard, chief commercial officer of Love Hemp, said: “We note the latest update from the FSA and are delighted with the results. The CBD industry in the UK has been largely unregulated, resulting in a lack of clarity for our consumers, and we welcome progress made to date by the FSA.
“We continue to work closely with the FSA and look forward to the next stage of the process, proceeding to validation followed by full approvals.”
Tim Clarke, managing director of Cannaray CBD, said Novel Foods regulation for CBD would allow the market in the UK to reach its full potential by ensuring rigorous standards of product safety and quality across the full CBD market.
He added: “Regulation by the FSA is creating a step-change in the quality and safety of the overall CBD market, such that shoppers can try CBD in confidence, and manufacturers and retailers can partner together to accelerate category growth.”
However, others were more critical of the FSA’s decision to authorise the sale of CBD products in the UK.
David Hardstaff of the Cannabis Regulatory team at BCL Solicitors said: "The FSA’s claim that creating a public list would help local authorities and retailers to prioritise products to be removed from sale fails to recognise the complexity and scale of the UK’s now mature CBD market.
“CBD products are widely available in retail stores and online in the form of oils, drops, gels, confectionery, cakes, biscuits and drinks,” he continued.
“The FSA list shows products that have a ‘credible application’ which can be authorised as the FSA expects to receive significant scientific evidence that it is safe. Those not listed, the FSA expects local authorities and retailers should remove from sale.”