LATEST figures for the UK Food Standards Agency show an increasing number of applications failing to make it through the first stage of the CBD Novel Food process.
The latest worrying development for the UK CBD industry comes over three months after the initial FSA submission deadline passed.
And, with now new additions to the ‘Public List’ in almost two months it looks increasingly unlikely that the FSA’s self-imposed June deadline to process applications will be met.
At the end of May the FSA says of the 803 applications had been received with 250 of these passing through to the Administration or Validation phases.
250 Pass First Stage
In previous disclosures the FSA has gone on to comment on the status of those applications which had not made it through.
However, it now says it will only be able to ‘supply monthly figures for total applications and live applications’.
It continued: “As of June 1, 2021, there have been 809 CBD applications since January 1, 2021. Out of those, 250 applications are currently undergoing administration/validation checks and four have passed Validation and are at the Assessment phase (these are linked to the products on the public list).
The previous figures, released at the end of April, showed 317 applications had moved on to the next stage – with, the same four having progressed through Validation and on to assessment.
A ‘Failed List’ Appropriate
Therefore, it looks as though the number of live applications has fallen by 67 over the last month – which in every likelihood means that the FSA has identified issues with these applications.
The Canna Consultants has taken applications forward for many clients. Its Co-founder Steve Oliver said: “This is basically unfair on many of the companies who have spent many thousands of pounds adhering to the FSA’s guidelines.
“This could seriously damage the credibility of the Food Standards Agency as the latest figures indicate more than 500 non compliant companies so a ‘failed list’ was probably more appropriate in these circumstances. It is certainly leaving many in the industry in a state of high anxiety and vexation.
“Although many in the industry do not wish to comment publicly on what is being described, off the record, as a debacle.”
This has proven to be the case with a number of companies approached by BusinessCann not prepared to comment at this point in time, for fear of being seen to be openly critical of the FSA.
UK CBD Novel Food expert Greer Deal, a Director at Global Regulatory Services, said: “What has happened to the 67 out of the original 317 applications which were going through the initial checks? Have they been asked to withdraw or been voluntarily withdrawn or are they incomplete applications which will eventually appear on the ‘pending validation’ list?
“I think the FSA to be clearer on their statistics and their feedback. The CBD ingestible industry is ‘wobbly’ at best at the moment and with this type of unclear feedback, people are bound to interpret it negatively – it’s human nature to jump to the worst conclusions and, perhaps, on this occasion it is right to think the worst.
“Uncertainty creates confusion, confusion results in fear and fear leads to inaction. The UK CBD food industry is at risk of stalling which could be disaster for this sector and for the UK economy.
“It is critical that the FSA delivers clear information on a more frequent and regular basis so that companies know the exact status of their novel food applications, can take action as appropriate and plan accordingly.”
What is the CBD Novel Food Process?
CBD is a thriving market set to be worth over £600m in the UK and increasingly popular in Europe, North America and the rest of the world.
In February, last year, the UK Food StandardsAgency’s scientific advisors raised concerns about the safety of CBD.
It said it wanted all companies looking to sell CBD in the UK to submit applications through its Novel Food process by March 31, this year – which effectively meant applications had to be submitted by the middle of February to allow for the initial Administrative check.
The first stage of securing a Novel Food permit is the Administrative check, which is designed to ensure all the required documentation is in place, the second is Validation; ensuring it matches the requirements, including details on safety and toxicology studies and finally Authorisation.
When an application has passed through Validation, the applicant, and the products associated with that application, are published on the FSA’s Public List.