EFSA demands more data for CBD Novel Foods applications

By Rod Addy

- Last updated on GMT

Cannabidiol is a substance that can be obtained from Cannabis sativa L. plants and synthesised chemically
Cannabidiol is a substance that can be obtained from Cannabis sativa L. plants and synthesised chemically

Related tags Food safety

Suppliers of cannabidiol (CBD) food products have been challenged as the European Food Standards Authority (EFSA) has refused to grant them CBD Novel Foods approval without further information.

EFSA said its scientists could not currently establish the safety of CBD as a Novel Food due to 'data gaps' and 'uncertainties' about potential hazards related to CBD intake.

The organisation's expert Panel on Nutrition, Novel Foods and Food Allergens (NDA) has received 19 applications for CBD as a novel food, with more in the pipeline. Unless these applications are approved, products containing CBD cannot legally be sold in EU member states.

The position statement comes as the Food Standards Agency continues to update its list of CBD food and drink suppliers that it considers have submitted a credible Novel Foods application. The list is not a guarantee of approval and is expected to be finalised by 30 June​.

'Several hazards'

Chair of the NDA panel Professor Dominique Turck said: “We have identified several hazards related to CBD intake and determined that the many data gaps on these health effects need filling before these evaluations can go ahead. It is important to stress at this point that we have not concluded that CBD is unsafe as food.”

The panel concluded there was insufficient data on the effect of CBD on the liver, gastrointestinal tract, endocrine system, nervous system and on people’s psychological well-being.

Studies in animals show significant adverse effects especially in relation to reproduction. It is important to determine if these effects are also seen in humans.

'Stopping the clock'

Ana Afonso, head of nutrition and food innovation at EFSA, stated: “Stopping the clock on a Novel Food assessment is not unusual when information is missing. It’s the responsibility of applicants to fill data gaps. We are engaging with them to explain how the additional information can be provided to help address the uncertainties.”

As part of the follow-up, EFSA is holding an information session, which is open to applicants and other groups or individuals with an interest in this issue and novel food more generally. The online event takes place on 28 June.

Cannabidiol is a substance that can be obtained from Cannabis sativa L.​ plants and synthesised chemically. The European Commission considers that CBD qualifies as a Novel Food provided it meets the conditions of EU legislation on novel foods​.

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