On Friday 26 March 2021, ACI representatives met with the FSA for clarification relating to the novel foods validation process and the publication of the list that they mentioned in their update on 12 March.
Here’s an overview of the key points:
There will be two lists, the final format has not yet been confirmed, however it will consist of one list of validated products and one list of “pending validation” products. This list will be published on the FSA’s website some time in April, the actual date has not been confirmed.
Products that are pending validation mean that they have demonstrated there is a robust plan to provide any missing data. This is a legal technicality, as by law the FSA cannot validate an application that has data missing. Which list your product is on is not a reflection of a safety assessment, just a difference in the amount of completed data you were able to provide at the point of application.
The FSA have contacted local authorities telling them to expect this list. The list will be updated on a weekly basis until all applications submitted before the 31 March 2021 deadline have been processed. It is expected to be “stable” by June. They will be processed in the order they were submitted, however delays in providing any requested information from the FSA could mean products move further down the queue and could take longer to appear on the list.
The FSA made it clear that this is not a list of legally approved products. Technically no CBD product is fully legal until it has full novel foods authorisation. However, this list will be shared with local authorities to help guide them in any enforcement actions. Being on this list demonstrates that companies are taking credible steps to move towards full compliance.
Products will not be listed if companies are unable to prove that they were on the market prior to 13 February 2020.
Validation is a confirmation that all the data has been submitted. It does not judge the quality of that data, which is assessed in the risk assessment phase prior to granting authorisation.
Local authorities have been invited by the FSA to contact them to verify that any products they wish to take action against are not in the process of being assessed for inclusion on the list. This is due to the delay between the list being first published and the list being completed.
Companies should be aware of their Regulated Products number (RP number). This is proof that you have made an application. Retailers or authorities may request this number. The FSA says the RP number will be published on their list. This information may help to guide you on how many products have been validated and whether you are close to being included.
The FSA expects anyone who has not submitted an application by 31st March to voluntarily withdraw their products from sale. After this, enforcement will be down to local authorities, with the list being taken into consideration.
Should they face enforcement action, ACI members in our PA partnership can ask for help from Trading Standards.
FSA clarified what an “Admin Check” means. This is a review of the application and verifies that all basic information has been added. For example, the company has included their name, address and other details. In most cases you will not be notified that you have passed the admin check. ACI does not recommend that our members create press releases celebrating this stage of the process. It’s akin to spelling your name correctly on a school exam.