NEWLY published data from the UK Food Standards Agency show that a further 89 applications have been approved for the Validated section of the UK Public List.
Once added to the list they will join the existing six applicants who have made it, to date, with the FSA saying all of these applications are now in its Risk Assessment phase (see below).
These most recent figures – up to January 31 – have been published in a report to a meeting of the FSA’s Business Committee, which sat on March 9.
This report also highlighted how there are still some 102 applications awaiting further information from the applicants.
There are three options for these applications. They will ether be rejected for not providing enough information, they will by placed on the On-Hold Section of the Public List or they will move on to the Validated section of the List.
Leading UK cannabis adviser Steve Oliver Director and co-founder of The Canna Consultants has welcomed the progress, albeit with a few caveats.
He said: “Despite these signs of progress there is still a lot of anxiety and some would even say panic in the market with companies still unsure – one year after the original deadline – where they stand with their applications.
“I would urge the FSA to clarify the situation as soon as possible so the market knows which companies can remain on the market.
“However, even when this list is eventually finalised I foresee a situation of numerous appeals against the FSA’s determinations and these will continue to rumble on for some time.
“Then, we also have the potential for companies who have been Validated by the FSA and even passed through Risk Assessment and Risk Management who may fall foul of the imminent changes to the permitted levels of THC in UK CBD products.”
Retail Crackdown Plan
The UK Public List is designed to show retailers, the wider industry and the public which products have been approved to remain on sale until a final determination on their status has been made.
In an effort to crackdown on the 600-plus suppliers whose applications have been rejected the FSA has said it will be establishing ‘a surveillance plan for CBD products on the market’.
This was disclosed In Chief Executive Emily Miles’ report to the FSA board at a meeting also held on March 9. BusinessCann asked the FSA to provide further details on this but it declined to comment further.
In her report to the meeting Ms Miles said: “We will be suggesting that local authorities take account of our list when prioritising activity on these products.
“Those products that do not appear on our list should be removed from the market. We will soon be supplying local authorities with guidance on ways of dealing with unauthorised novel foods that are placed on the market.
“In light of Board comments in December, we are also developing a surveillance plan for CBD products on the market.”
To recap, In February 2020 the FSA said it needed all suppliers of CBD products to apply for Novel Food status.
It received over 800 applications with some 600 of these having already being rejected.
The Numerous Stages In The Novel Food Process
Applications that are going through an initial “sense check” before being reviewed by policy at the validation stage.
This consists of two parts; an initial validation assessment by the FSA Policy team followed by a suitability check by the FSA’s Science, Evidence and Research Directorate (SERD).
Policy assesses whether the applicant has submitted the particular evidence required in legislation, whilst a more in-depth check by SERD ensures that suitable detail has been provided to compete a risk assessment.
If information is insufficient, the FSA ‘stops the clock’ and pauses work on the application until the information is provided. Where lacking, it is deemed not to be able to move forward. Once sufficient evidence is provided and deemed suitable, it then moves into the risk assessment phase.
This is the consideration of the science and related evidence by SERD and will include, where appropriate, referral to the independent scientific committees for an opinion on safety. Other evidence, such as economic impact and consumer research may also be sought.
Once the safety and other evidence has been collated and where appropriate assessed, this is passed back to risk managers who then consider a number of options based on that information as well as other factors.
Matters identified as non-routine may be discussed by the FSA Board and may be then subject to a public consultation.
Recommendations are then made to Ministers and based on their decisions, enabling legislation is drawn up.