CBD trade group rebukes UK food agency over lack of support during crisis

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

CBD trade group rebukes FSA over lack of support in crisis

Related tags Fsa CTA Cbd

The Cannabis Trades Association (CTA) is calling out the Food Standards Agency’s (FSA) failure to support the Cannabidiol (CBD) and hemp industry in meeting the Novel Foods application deadline during the coronavirus crisis.

In a response to the industry group’s request the UK’s FSA says it has not “received any evidence in support of the suggestion that recent events with COVID-19 has rendered CBD businesses incapable of formulating novel food applications to the appropriate standard to meet next year’s deadline”.

The response dated 9 April adds that its stance was taken with the background to CBD extracts firmly in mind, where CBD firms have already had over a year and just under a further year to progress novel food applications; a total of over 2 years.

The Agency points to a number of CBD firms that have and are building applications towards the deadline date, with some having already submitted initial applications.

Only last week, US-based Mile High Labs revealed that it had submitted a Novel Foods application to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) for its CBD isolate ingredient and CBD isolate-based finished products.

However, in referring to the FSA’s assertions that the crisis had not affected firms’ ability to submit Novel Food applications, the CTA considered this ‘demonstrably incorrect’.

“Many of our members have had to furlough staff and in lockdown, business activities will clearly reduce,” ​the group says.

“Staff in the laboratories and other ancillary industries will also be in lockdown and therefore capacity will be substantially reduced. 

“We find the FSA’s position on this to be quite baffling, unsympathetic and unaligned with all government departments at this moment of national and international crisis. Especially when many in our Industry have pivoted and committed immense resources to fighting this life-threatening virus.”

Extension request

The CTA’s response is to events that began on 31 March, where the group requested an extension of the requirements to present a validated Novel Foods Application in light of the global situation.

The month before saw updated regulatory and precautionary advice issued by the FSA that stated the CBD industry had until 31 March 2021 to submit valid novel food authorisation applications.

After this date only products, which have submitted a valid application will be allowed to remain on the market.

The CTA raised additional concerns in which it highlighted the registration procedure that the FSA assured the industry would be made available had yet to be put into place.

The FSA also confirmed that products registered in the EU would not automatically be granted the same registration in the UK.

“We are concerned that the FSA is incapable of understanding that the majority of products in the UK market are unable to comply with Novel Food regulations,”​ the CTA continues.

“This is because they are manufactured from a natural ingredient, as opposed to a denatured and standardised one.  Indeed, the only validated product at the present time is synthetic.”

‘More than enough time’

The FSA hit back arguing that “Discussions with yourselves and others in the industry have been ongoing for significantly longer.

“We consider that this is more than enough time to have planned and started the necessary studies.”

“As such [the FSA] can confirm there is no change in approach and the deadline as previously set out by the FSA remains.”

The CTA reiterates that it does not believe this is how the public wants its CBD suggesting the public wants to have a range of natural cannabinoids in their diet.

“Extracts of hemp are not novel! Denatured isolates and high-purity selective CBD extractions (distillates) are,” ​they say.

“This is a position that the CTA continues to hold, and we will continue to fight for recognition of this position.

“Our aim is to ensure the sustainability of our member businesses, so that they may continue to supply natural health and wellbeing products, in the UK and Europe and indeed all around the world wherever they may operate.”

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