By Emily Ledger
Despite the UK’s exit from the European Union and the end of the ‘transition period’ at the beginning of this year, it appears that the European Commission’s ruling on the novel status of CBD will stand. This means that all manufacturers and producers of CBD products in the UK will still be expected to have completed a Novel Foods application by the deadline later this year.
While many expect the CBD and cannabis sector to continue to grow and flourish following the UK’s exit from the EU, the upcoming Novel Foods application deadline could still see a large bulk of products removed from the market. The application deadline for CBD brands looking to gain Novel Foods certification is March 31, 2021.
Here’s everything you need to know about Novel Foods and the application process for CBD products.
What is a Novel Food?
A Novel Food under European Law is a product that was not consumed to a meaningful extent by people in Europe prior to May 1997. This can include relatively new products such as phytosterols and phytostanols used in cholesterol-reducing spreads as well as foods that may have been consumed elsewhere in the world but are new to consumers in European member states.
Novel Foods can also be food products made through processes that were not used routinely prior to May 1997.
While products containing significant amounts of CBD will be considered novel, a number of other products derived from cannabis – such as hemp seeds and oils – are not included in the ruling. This is because hemp products have a history in European markets dating back to before 1997.
In January 2019, the European Commission confirmed the decision that CBD extracts and isolates were listed under the Novel Foods Act. Other cannabinoids are also considered Novel Foods, however, none have reached the commercial popularity of CBD. There are currently no Novel Foods certified CBD products on the market.
Novel Foods Application Process
The Food Safety Authorisation announced that companies must have a validated application for all their CBD products by March 31. Validation of the application is the first step towards Novel Foods authorisation.
The applications must contain sufficient data to prove the safety and compliance of each individual product. Products that are manufactured in the same way (i.e. different flavour oils) will be valid under the same application. However, this means that companies will have to submit a novel foods application for each product category that uses a different manufacturing process.
Applications require product manufacturing data for a minimum of five batches of product. According to the Association for the Cannabinoids Industry (ACI), this data should be included in full within application dossiers to the European Food Standards Agency (EFSA).
On the other hand, the UK FSA has reported that “submission can be made with a commitment to generate the required data in the future”.
For more information on what is required for a successful Novel Foods application, visit the ACI’s website.
What happens to products without Novel Foods approval?
While it is unlikely that a large number of products will gain Novel Foods approval by the March 31 deadline, companies will need to have a validated application. Those that have not had a Novel Foods application validated by the deadline risk having their products removed from both UK and EU markets.