FOLLOWING talks with the Home Office and food regulators, efforts are now under way to to establish a new testing regime for the CBD industry.
The Association for the Cannabinoid Industry (ACI) today announced it is pressing ahead with trials on a new protocol in conjunction with UK Government chemists and testing firm Eurofins.
And, the initiative appears to have clarified a common mis-understanding on the levels of THC allowed in retail CBD – setting a benchmark of 1mg (milligram) per item.
Steve Moore of the ACI said in a press briefing: “We stand for an industry delivering safe and compliant products. It’s important for our members that we provide the best possible stewardship and to call out those companies who do not comply.
“This is a vital piece of development work for the ACI – an essential step towards standardisation for the industry – which will reap its reward in the years to come.”
THC Traces At One Part Per Million
A standard analytical testing methodology for CBD product testing does not exist. This means test results can differ from laboratory to laboratory.
After months of work the ACI has produced a set of protocols and, following rigorous scrutiny, Eurofins has found them ‘robust’.
The ACI and the Laboratory of Government Chemists (LGC) will now focus on the development of a precise cannabinoid testing methodology based on these principles.
The High Performance Liquid Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry (HPLC/MS) technology which is being deployed can detect THC down to a level of 1PPM (one part per million), as well as detecting over a dozen additional cannabinoids.
Dr Parveen Bhatarah, ACI Regulatory and Compliance Unit Lead, said that after undertaking an initial gap analysis it has now been able to lay the foundations for a sanctioned testing regime.
“Up to now there has been no standard analytical methodology for CBD product testing. Test result variations are further complicated due to the instability of most of these cannabinoids to light, temperature, humidity and air meaning sample preparation is key to consistency.
“Eurofins have demonstrated our protocols to be robust and we look forward to moving this standardisation forward with LGC.”
Home Office Opens Dialogue With Industry
Mr Moore said this testing initiative follows a significant thawing in relations between the industry and the Home Office.
“The Government have been prevaricating on this for some time, but we have now got to the stage where the industry can have an elevated conversation with the Home Office and the FSA (Food Standards Agency), and that engagement has been critical.
“In the past there has always been vagueness from these bodies, but we are now submitting Novel Food dossiers. We are no longer just talking, we are doing, and in the process generating millions of pounds in food safety investment for retailers and consumers,” he said.
The issues of CBD safety and product content is a thorn in the side of regulators and consumers and was highlighted in a series of tests on 30 retail CBD products, last year.
It found discrepancies between what was stated on the label and actual contents, and many products included elevated levels of the psychoactive cannabinoid THC.
Testing To Support Novel Food Regime
There has been some confusion in the industry over acceptable THC levels in food retail products with a benchmark of 0.2%THC, or 100PPM – 1mg in a 10ml container – touted as acceptable.
However, Marc Marc Burbidge, Development & Quality Lead at the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis confirmed that the Home Office has settled on a level of 1mg per retail product.
Mr Moore added: “The industry is in unsatisfactory state. Last year’s consumer product tests demonstrated clear breaches of the basic standards expected for the consumer.
“This new initiative will act as an important part in building the infrastructure required to reassure those consumers.”
An exemplary testing and analysis process is a key requisite in securing a Novel Food authorisation. All UK CBD companies are expected to have submitted a Novel Food application by March 31, 2021.