12th March 2021
By Emily Ledger
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As the Novel Foods application deadline quickly approaches, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has updated its criteria for CBD products that will remain on the market until April 1. 

CBD businesses in the UK were previously told that their Novel Foods application would need to be validated by the deadline on March 31, 2021. However, the FSA has announced that applications submitted by the deadline may be subsequently validated after this date.

This update will maximise the opportunity for CBD products to pass validation and gain Novel Foods approval. Following completion, applications are subject to an 8-day admin check, as well as up to 30 working days for validation.

In order to be considered for Novel Foods approval, however, products must have been on sale at the time of the FSA’s original announcement (February 13, 2020). Therefore, products on sale on February 13, 2020, that are linked to an application submitted before March 31 will be considered for Novel Foods approval.

In a statement, Emily Miles, Chief Executive of the Food Standards Agency, said:

“Applying for novel food authorisation is the only way CBD products can remain on sale here. For the past year, we’ve been encouraging all businesses to submit good quality applications as a matter of urgency.

“However, we have received a large number of applications close to the deadline. This means that, in order to process these properly, we are adapting the criteria of products allowed to remain on sale from 1 April.

“For some time now we’ve been supporting a pragmatic and proportionate approach to CBD regulation. Our commitment to ensuring that consumers know these products are being checked for safety remains firm.”

After the March 31 Deadline

A list of products that are linked to a validated application will be published on the Food Standards Agency website in April and kept updated. The FSA website will also publish a list of products that have not yet met the legal requirements to be validated but have laid out sufficiently robust plans to prove they are fully committed to delivering the remaining information required.

While this update will maximise the opportunity for CBD products in the UK to have their Novel Foods applications validated, validation is not the same as approval. Having a validated application does not guarantee that Novel Foods approval will be granted.

CBD products that are not linked to a Novel Foods application by the March 31 deadline face being removed from the UK and European markets.

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.

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.

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