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Food Standards Agency Provide Update on CBD Compliance Post 31 March

Posted by Lewis Olden on
Food Standards Agency Provide Update on CBD Compliance Post 31 March

 The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has declared that all CBD businesses must submit their novel food applications prior to the 31st of March 2021 deadline.

The FSA have reiterated that CBD suppliers and brands must submit their novel food applications before 31 of March 2021 to ensure that their products comply with the new novel food regulations. The entities with validated applications will be allowed to continue selling their CBD products in the UK.

The criteria for the CBD products that can still be sold in the UK from April 2021 onwards has been updated. Prior to the FSA’s announcement, only products that were on sale as of 13 February 2020 and were associated with a validated novel food application were to be included. However, the FSA has elected to enable companies another chance and maximising the opportunity to receive a validated application by including all products that were on sale as of 13 February 2020 and are linked to a novel food application that is submitted before 31 March 2021, which is then validated at a later date.

Obtaining novel food authorisation for a CBD product is the only manner in which CBD products can remain on shelves in the UK whether that be retail or online. 

The FSA seem to have been overwhelmed by the number of last-minute submissions and therefore have decided to extend the process. This will enable the FSA to fairly assess each application on its own merit and ensure that all validated applications will result in safe and compliant products.

The novel food applications go through an 8-day administration check and it then takes up to 30 working days for a novel food application to be validated. The validated applications then proceed to the authorisation process. It is in the authorisation process that safety checks are carried out to determine the products are fit for sale and mass consumption.

Once all of the novel food application has been assessed, the FSA will publish a list of all validated novel food applications.

The FSA also intends to publish the list of products that are linked to each application that haven’t yet fully complied with the legislation but have set out appropriate plans to rectify this and remain committed to deliver the outstanding data or information. Instances of this will include evidence of plans to complete various risk assessments with a definitive deadline for the submission of the outstanding information.

It is important to note that validation is not the same thing as authorisation. There are no guarantees that a validated application will be ultimately authorised. At the authorisation stage, each application must undergo a comprehensive risk analysis. 

Local authorities will have the power to enforce the novel food legislation.

What is CBD?

CBD is a naturally occurring chemical found within the cannabis plant. CBD has only recently become a hot trend in the Health & Wellness space and it is commonly featured in CBD oils, CBD capsules, CBD patches and CBD vapes.

CBD was defined as a novel food product in January of 2019 and under the novel food legislation, food supplements or ingredients that don’t have a definitive consumption pre-dating May of 1997 must be evaluated and then authorised by the FSA before they can be sold in the UK market. 

The FSA is the body responsible for regulating the CBD market. It is important to note that the novel food legislation only applies to ingestible products and does not apply to CBD patches, CBD creams, CBD vapes or CBD cosmetics. It is also imperative that CBD brands do not make any medical claims when advertising their products.

Novel Food Authorisation

CBD companies that intend to sell their products in the UK must submit their novel food applications before 31 March 2021. This is done via the Regulated Products system. 


The Food Standards Agency is the government department that is responsible for regulating ingestible CBD products and will be tasked with enforcing the new legislation. The FSA will issue guidance about how to deal with CBD companies who may be working around the law, but it will be the local authorities who are responsible for making specific enforcement decisions based on the facts of individual cases.

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