The United Kingdom’s (UK’s) Foods Standard Agency (FSA) is at the forefront of cannabinoid (CBD) regulation with the novel food designation of hemp-derived CBD extracts. The Novel Food application process evaluates whether CBD products are safe for human consumption and have been manufactured according to good practice. This is a major step in building consumer confidence in the industry.
Novel Food Designation
A novel food is defined as food that has not been consumed to any significant degree in the EU before 15 May 1997 (when the first novel food legislation entered into force).
'Novel Food' can be newly developed, innovative food, or food produced using new technologies and production processes, as well as food traditionally eaten outside of the EU. This definition has not changed with the new Novel Food Regulation.
The underlying principles underpinning Novel Food in the European Union are that Novel Foods must be:
- Safe for consumers
- Properly labelled so as not to mislead consumers
- If novel food is intended to replace another food, it must not differ so that the consumption of the Novel Food would be nutritionally disadvantageous for the consumer.
Pre-market authorization of Novel Foods based on an evaluation in line with the above principles is necessary.
CBD as a Novel Food
The EU Novel Foods Catalogue was updated in January of 2019 to include hemp-derived cannabinoids, including CBD. The designation means that manufacturers need to have their CBD supplements and edible products evaluated for consumer safety and seek permission from EU authorities to place them on the market. Specifically, for CBD to be placed on the UK market, a novel food authorization application must be submitted using the Food Standards Agency (FSA).
The UK's Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment (COT), an independent scientific committee that advises the FSA, has declared gaps in the existing evidence proving the safety of CBD in food. To attain validation of a novel foods application for a CBD food product, a company must provide enough data to fill these gaps. Further, the FSA confirmed in September 2020 that any company that does not have such original derived data would not have their novel foods dossier validated.
Treehouse has joined the Association for the Cannabinoid Industry's (ACI) CBD Safety Study Consortium to generate the necessary toxicology data. This study will address gaps in data identified by COT and generate analytics accordingly. It will also provide the safety information mandated by the FSA and the novel foods application process. Under the requirements, any provider that does not apply prior to March 31, 2021 will not be able to sell CBD ingredients in the UK.