Food Standards Scotland Clarifies Their CBD Position to ACI and Our Members

On the 17th December 2020, Food Standards Scotland (FSS) clarified their position in relation to CBD in food products to the ACI and our members, via an online meeting.

The FSS emphasised that, from a legal perspective, ingredients which are classified as novel foods are not permissible on the market until they have a full novel foods authorisation.

“All businesses intending to sell food items containing CBD should not place their products on the market until they have applied for, and received, authorisation from the EU or, from 1 January 2021, Food Standards Scotland.

We urge businesses with products already on the market to lodge an application for authorisation of a novel food without undue delay.”

FSS statement on CBD, 17 December 2020

For that reason, the FSS deems it is unable to follow the Foods Standards Agency (FSA) position that products already on the market before 13 February 2020 have a deadline of 31st March to have a validated* novel foods dossier. However, they did acknowledge that companies with a validated dossier are demonstrating they are taking the necessary steps to verify their products are safe. So the FSS are recommending a proportionate approach to enforcement.

*A validated dossier means that the application has been received and includes all the data the FSA and FSS need. Validation is a prerequisite to having a full novel foods authorisation. Full authorisation will take at least a year after validation has been granted.

A proportionate enforcement approach

In the one hour long meeting the FSS acknowledged that many products are already on the market and they commended the good actors within the sector who are taking great effort to gain full legal compliance. For that reason, the FSS are encouraging a proportionate enforcement approach from Scottish local authorities, an approach that takes into account a company’s commitment to gaining the necessary novel foods authorisation.

To gain a better understanding of the state of the CBD market in Scotland the FSS conducted a sampling project. The results of the study, which tested 30 products on the market, highlighted a number of issues. The FSS are working with the relevant authorities to address these issues.

In the call, they doubled down on their statement by encouraging all companies with products currently on the market to get a novel foods application into the FSS (via the FSA) as soon as possible to avoid having products removed from shelves by Scottish local authorities.

Due to Brexit, as of the 1st January 2021, the novel foods authorisation process in the UK will be a UK wide approach. The FSS will be working closely with the FSA on the validation and authorisation of novel foods scientific dossiers. This means applications should go to FSA and there is no need to make a separate application to FSS.

The ACI welcomes this clarification from the FSS. “Despite the FSS not aligning with the FSA’s approach to allow products to remain on the shelves prior to full novel foods authorisation, we are encouraged by the proactive steps the FSS are taking to gain a better understanding of the situation,” says Shomi Malik, ACI Development Director, who has led discussions on behalf of the ACI and our members with the FSS. “We look forward to continuing the discussion on behalf of our members to find a solution that protects Scottish consumers.”

Led by the ACI’s Regulatory Consultancy Team, the ACI are bringing our members together in a CBD Safety Consortium to help them reduce the burden of costs and complexity involved in generating the necessary data for their novel foods applications for CBD isolate and distillate ingredients.

If you are a CBD company, with a commitment to being fully legally compliant in the UK, then contact the ACI to discover how we can help you stay on the market come the FSA’s 31st March deadline.