Food Standards Agency Approves Sale of CBD Products in England & Wales
The United Kingdom’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) has approved the sale of 3,500 products infused with CBD (cannabidiol) to consumers.
The next step is formal authorization by the UK government, involving numerous stages of assessment. The purpose of generating the list is to improve the safety of CBD products and product labeling. The formal authorization is not likely to happen before the year 2023, but the development of the list is an important step in recognizing and managing a growing industry.
The sale of CBD products is currently allowed while the FSA proceeds with its risk assessment of various products. The list includes basic CBD products like CBD oils and tinctures, capsules and gummy bears plus a variety of foods and beverages. On the list are items like cookies, brownies, popcorn, carbonated beverages, coffee and more. Only list products marked as “awaiting evidence” or “validated” are legally sold.
The United Kingdom is a leader in the CBD market and in regulating the industry, with revenues only exceeded in the United States. The Association for the Cannabinoid Industry (ACI) reports the UK market had an estimated worth of 690 million pounds as of 2021. This is twice the amount of revenues reported in 2019.
The Chief Executive of the FSA said,
“If a product is not on the list, it should be removed from sale because it is not attached to a credible application to us for market authorization, but being on the list means that the application is credible and the FSA has or is shortly expecting to receive, significant scientific evidence from the applicant with which to judge safety.”
One of the main drivers of the product list is the fact there are many unauthorized products for sale and products that are mislabeled. The FSA assessed products for oral consumption appearing on the products list by using a Novel Food process. A novel food is one that has not been consumed by consumers in the European Union or Great Britain before May 1997. It was applied to products sold before February 13, 2020. All products introduced after that date will undergo a full authorization process, unless a scientific dossier was submitted by March 31, 2020.
This organized approach to allowing the sale of safe CBD products is admirable. Unlike the United States with its state piecemeal laws, the UK will have one authorization process. This will remove much of the confusion concerning which products are legal and help consumers make good buying decisions. Consumers can even visit an ACI website to verify whether a CBD product is legal.