The Food Standards Agency confirmed in January 2019, that CBD extracts would be listed within the Novel Foods Catalogue. Novel Foods are those which haven’t been widely consumed by people living with the UK or the EU, before May 1997 and therefore don’t have a ‘history of consumption’.

Before novel foods can be legally marketed within the UK, they are required to have a pre-market safety assessment and authorisation.

However, the Food Standards Agency issued updated guidance earlier this year, which states manufacturers are required to submit a CBD Novel Food Application prior to any sales, to ensure their CBD product is validated and classified as safe for consumption.

What does this mean for your CBD business? Let us explain.

What is a CBD Novel Foods Application?

The CBD Novel Foods Application, is the only route to compliance for CBD products and ensures the process used by manufacturers to make the products is true and correct. For any applications put forward to the Food Standards Agency, each individual product must be listed including the process taken to create the CBD product.

Although the UK is no longer a member of the European Union, the Food Standards Agency still requires CBD products within the UK market to have a Novel Food Application, which is sent to the European Commission for review and approval.

No Authorisation - No Shelves

From 1 April 2021, any CBD product without an approved Novel Foods Application will be removed from the shelves. Because ingredients included within CBD oils were not commonly eaten in Europe before 1997, the European Commission placed cannabidiol under the category of ‘novel foods’ which meant lab results were required before it could be sold to consumers.

CBD products within the UK market have increased dramatically over the past couple of years, which has resulted in CBD becoming part of most people’s everyday routine. But, with a large split between brands who are working towards their approved Novel Food status, and many who are doing nothing; how many will be left on the shelves come April next year?

The requirements for Novel Food Applications and getting them approved hasn’t always been clear, either. Although the announcement was made by the FSA back in February, the details on how to apply, the checklist and additional information have been released bit, by bit. This along with the current worldwide pandemic, uncertainty surrounding Brexit and conflicting advice from groups within industry have left many CBD companies hesitant to invest in an application.

An Outline of the Novel Food Application

The process of applying for the Novel Foods Authorisation is costly, and time consuming. From the date an application is submitted to the FSA, it could take as much as 2-years before the final approval is granted - which is why CBD suppliers and manufacturers must act now.

So; what’s included in the process?

  • Stage 1
    • Data Gathering
    • Gather analytical lab data, safety and exposure data, manufacturing process, composition, purity, intended use information.
    • Duration: 6 months approx
  • Stage 2
    • Submission
    • Complete application form (online portal)
    • Duration: 2/3 days
  • Stage 3
    • Evaluation by EFSA
    • EFSA evaluate submitted information
    • Duration: 9 months
  • Stage 4
    • Questions from EFSA
    • Receive questions by EFSA. Company prepares response to questions.
    • Duration: Depends on number and nature of questions and company response time.
  • Approval
    • When EFSA are satisfied the application is deemed complete the product details are uploaded to Union list of permitted novel foods and the CBD novel food can be marketed in the EU.
    • Duration: 3-6 months

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