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Novel food deadline delayed due to “large number” of last-minute applications



CBD companies should continue to submit their novel food applications before the 31 March 2021 deadline.
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The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has backtracked on previous guidance and confirmed that it will accept last-minute novel food applications up until the deadline.

In an update announced on Thursday 11 March, the FSA said CBD companies should continue to submit their novel food applications before the 31 March 2021 deadline.

The authority had previously said that all products wishing to remain on the market must be validated by this date.

Now in order to maximise the opportunity for companies to pass validation, this now includes all products on sale on 13 February 2020 and linked to an application submitted before 31 March 2021.

Companies with suitably validated applications will be able to continue selling their products in England and Wales until they have been considered by independent scientific committees and a decision on authorisation has been made. 

The decision has been made following a large number of last-minute applications received by the FSA.

Emily Miles, chief executive of the FSA said: “Applying for novel food authorisation is the only way CBD products can remain on sale here. For the past year, we’ve been encouraging all businesses to submit good quality applications as a matter of urgency. 

“However, we have received a large number of applications close to the deadline. This means that, in order to process these properly, we are adapting the criteria of products allowed to remain on sale from 1 April.

“For some time now we’ve been supporting a pragmatic and proportionate approach to CBD regulation. Our commitment to ensuring that consumers know these products are being checked for safety remains firm.”

A list of products linked to validated applications will be published on the FSA’s website in April and regularly updated. 

The FSA says it will also publish a list of products associated with applications which have not yet fully met the legal requirements to be validated but have set out “sufficiently robust plans to prove they are fully committed to delivering the remaining information required”.

This should include evidence of plans to complete the risk assessment process, with a clear deadline for submission of the outstanding information.

Local authorities have been advised  that only products which were on sale at the time of the FSA’s announcement and are linked to a suitable novel food application submitted before 31 March 2021 should remain on sale from 1 April 2021.

 said the update 

Shomi Malik, external affairs director for the Association for the Cannabinoid Industry (ACI) said update was a “welcome one” and advised that any companies which have not yet submitted their dossier should do so as soon as possible.

Sarah Ellson, regulatory lawyer and cannabis expert at Fieldfisher also welcomed the news, describing the previous guidance as “harsh” in light of the “immense pressure” on businesses due to Brexit and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Ellson commented: “The UK’s Food Standard Agency (FSA) has announced an important change to the criteria for ingestible CBD products, which can remain on sale from 1 April. Before the novel foods application deadline of 31 March was a harsh deadline for products to be validated.

“With Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic, while concessions have been made, there was still immense pressure on businesses to ensure they could still sell their products. So, this announcement by the FSA will actually be welcome news for the industry as the requirement is now only to have applications submitted to the FSA by the 31 March, allowing more time for businesses to start the process and ensure their products can still be sold April onwards.

“However, this change has only allowed for a short leeway and we cannot be sure of further changes in applications being validated, so businesses do need to move quickly.”

Sarah Sinclair is a respected cannabis journalist writing on subjects related to science, medicine, research, health and wellness. She is managing editor of Cannabis Health, the UK’s leading title covering medical cannabis and CBD, and sister titles, Cannabis Wealth and Psychedelic Health.Sarah has an NCTJ journalism qualification and an MA in Journalism from the University of Sunderland. Sarah has over six years experience working on newspapers, magazines and digital-first titles, the last two of which have been in the cannabis sector. She has also completed training through the Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society securing a certificate in Medical Cannabis Explained.She is a member of PLEA’s (Patient-Led Engagement for Access) advisory board, has hosted several webinars on cannabis and women's health and has moderated at industry events such as Cannabis Europa.Sarah Sinclair is the editor of Cannabis Health. Got a story? Email / Follow us on Twitter: @CannabisHNews / Instagram: @cannabishealthmag