FSA Regulations for CBD Products: How Has it Affected The CBD Industry?

The CBD market is on trend to be one of the biggest markets in the UK over the coming years, and thanks to the new FSA regulations, CBD products can now be traded freely. Prior to April 1st 2021, CBD products weren’t properly regulated meaning that CBD products often were not properly labelled, and the exact contents weren’t clear to consumers. Now, moving forward this will no longer be the case due to the FSA regulations, classifying CBD products as a Novel Food, meaning that they fall under the remit of Novel Food regulations.

What is CBD?

CBD is the non-psychoactive compound found in the cannabis plant. It is reported to have numerous health benefits including promoting restful sleep and general wellbeing. Numerous studies into the medical benefits of CBD are underway and it is currently showing some positive effects on some health problems such as anxiety, depression and seizures and is displaying some anti-inflammatory and anti-nausea effects. CBD can be ingested as a tincture extract taken sub-lingually, or incorporated into food, cosmetics and vaping products.

Who are the FSA?

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is ain dependant government body operating in the UK, which ensures that the food we eat is trustworthy and safe. They do this by using independent scientific bodies to test food hygiene and food safety of every food product that we eat.

Background to CBD regulation in the UK

Prior to the new regulation, there has been much frustration for the global cannabis industry due to the lack of clarity and guidance, given that they operate within a rapidly growing industry. Cannabis laws vary across all countries and across ownership, distribution, cultivation, methods of use and medical usage. CBD use falls into 3 legal categories, food supplements which are fully legal, medicinal products and strictly controlled or not regulated.

Why was CBD considered a Novel Food?

As of January 2029, CBD was confirmed to have “novel food status”. The term novel food, is applied to any food that has no history of consumption before 15th of May 1957. The FSA takes responsibility for making sure these novel foods are safe for consumers.


What are the new regulations?

In February of 2020, the FSA announced that all UK manufacturers of products or supplements containing CBD must submit valid novel food authorisation applications or withdraw their products from sale. The deadline for this was March 31st 2021. Any products remaining on the market after this date, which have not been validated are now not legal. Under the remit of a Novel Food, a product must be clearly labelled with all ingredients and the exact amounts.

It is expected that in the future, each product will require a Certificate of Analysis from a 3rd Party Testing Lab, and whilst this is not currently a legal requirement, most CBD producers are doing this already.

Brands were asked to produce sales receipts preceding February 2020 as a part of their application, so brands that launched after 2020, of which there are quite a few, might be struggling. 

How is the industry finding the new regulations?

The Cannabis Trades Association have joined the Novel Foods process, and are complying to the new regulations, but have stated that they understand that it will change the industry. They do however take the stance that natural cannabis products that were not synthetically engineered should not be falling under the remit of a Novel Food.

The European Industrial Hemp Association does not agree with such status of CBD, it argues that a long history of consumption of its components including leaves and flowers mean that it should have the status of a traditional food.

Looking Forwards

The FSA are currently working on having manufacturers produce toxicology reports for each individual product, and to date the only cannabinoid with toxicology status is CBD. This is likely to mean that we will see more of a CBD-isolate dominated market for a while. Other cannabinoids are then surely soon to follow and there has been some early stage movement towards obtaining toxicology status studies for them.

Compared to the amount of CBD brands out there, a relatively small number of companies have managed to get their products onto the FSA’s pending list, many of which still haven’t heard anything back. Could it be the case that those who haven’t yet heard anything, are unlikely to hear back at all with regards to being validated?

We at Network Scientific have industry expertise surrounding CBD. We have helped CBD brands in the past, and have also worked with 3rd Party Testing Labs. Contact us today to see how we could help boost your brand within the CBD and Testing industries.

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