UK Food Standards Agency lifts regulatory bottleneck on CBD-based food products  

UK – The UK Food Standards Agency has published a list of more than 3,500 CBD-based food products permitted for sale to consumers. 

The move by UK FSA removes regulatory uncertainty that prevented many retailers from selling or marketing the product.  

These products will now go on to be assessed by the FSA for safety before being placed on the market, expected in 2023. 

CBD is oil or powder derived from the cannabis plant that can be added as an ingredient in food and beverages. 

The food standards agency had given a deadline of 31 March 2021 for companies to submit Novel Food applications for CBD products on the market. 

The agency was expected to release a public list of CBD products permitted for sale to consumers afterward. 

The long-awaited list was first published in April 2021 but is now complete and the FSA hopes it will allow retailers and consumers to now make informed judgments about what they stock and buy.  

“The CBD market is growing rapidly,” said FSA Chief Executive Emily Miles. “The FSA has been working to move the CBD industry into compliance.” 

“Today we have taken the next step in our pragmatic approach to making sure CBD products are safe and what they say they are.” 

Opportunity for new product innovation 

Only those CBD products featured on the list have been given the green light by the FSA to stay on the market with those not on the list required to exit UK shelves.  

Steve Moore, Founder of the Association for the Cannabinoid Industry (ACI) the UK’s CBD sector trade body, estimated ‘thousands’ of products will have to be removed, which will create opportunities for those companies with permitted products.  

“Those on the list should be able to confidently begin to reengage with retailers regarding how they promote and market their products,” he said. 

The UK’s market for consumer CBD products was worth £690 million in 2021, according to ACI estimates – more than double the level of sales recorded in 2019, when the market was valued at £314 million.  

The UK is now the world’s second largest market for consumer CBD, behind only the US. 

A highly versatile ingredient 

ACI hails CBD as a highly versatile ingredient, which, if used in the correct way, can be put into a wide variety of food and beverage products.  

This means it can be incorporated into the public’s everyday dietary habits in foods that are consumed regularly, expanding the market even further 

Studies continue to show it may be an effective treatment for epilepsy and may prove to be an option for, among other things, managing anxiety, insomnia, inflammation, arthritis, and even HIV symptoms. 

 But these studies are as yet inconclusive. Only Epidiolex, the first and only prescription CBD medicine approved by the FDA in the US which is used to treat seizures, has verified medical claims.  

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