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While the CBD market in the UK is reported to be worth £300m and expected to hit £1 billion by 2025 (Centre for Medicinal Cannabis), a recent statement released by the FSA reiterating its status as a novel food product has set headlines ablaze. Speciality Food spoke to three brands utilising CBD in their products to get their take.
Melanie Goldsmith, CEO at Pollen:
“We only see this move from the FSA as a positive one. At the moment there is a lot of uncertainty, not just for the industry but for consumers too. We expect and hope that this announcement will help to bring greater clarity to a growing market, allowing consumers and retailers to choose brands with confidence in their integrity and enforce higher standards across the board – an approach that Pollen has always advocated and upheld.”
Jenny Simms, brand director at The Marshmallowist:
“As artisan confectioners I want more transparency on ingredients and I’m also supportive of increased regulation – this tends to works well for us because we use the best quality ingredients you can buy. But I, personally, feel that the novel foods regulation doesn’t do that. It’s odd territory to move into – to class CBD products as a novel food because they failed to show a significant history of consumption prior to 1997? Well what an arbitrary and irrelevant benchmark. How we ate in 1997 is not how we eat now. In a progressive food market that shows us moving more towards plant based products from oat milk to pea protein, showing that it was relevant to a 1997 consumer has little bearing on the demand for it in a 2020 market nor it’s efficacy as a product. I want to see more transparency on supply chains, I want to see products rigorously tested for the quality of their ingredients. I don’t want a ‘novel foods’ classification that does not improve consumer understanding or bring about an uplift in standards.”
David Burden, director at The London Botanist:
“In regards to the Novel food enforcement in the UK it seems on the surface that the FSA have given the market a route to compliance stating that only those with a novel food licence will be allowed to trade come 2021. However it is not quite that straightforward. These licences are a barrier for most companies with the costs running into the hundreds of thousands and so far there are only a handful of applications that have made it past the first stage. These applications are for single molecule products (either synthetic or isolate) and none are for whole plant extracts. It is argued that unlike isolates, whole plant extracts use the synergy of all the compounds in the hemp plant to help the body achieve homeostasis. Taken at face value it seems whole plant extracts could be off the market in the UK come 2021.
“However it seems there have been some immediate developments in Germany in relation to CBD’s novel food status which could be wide reaching. The federal government and federal ministry of food and agriculture (BMEL) has decided that it is sticking to earlier findings of the EU commission that whilst CBD isolates and CBD-hemp rich extracts’ are considered novel, whole plant extracts including leaves and flowers are not covered by Art. 2 of Regulation (EU) 2015/2283 on novel foods and novel food ingredients. The EIHA are now awaiting on the response of the Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL) to concur with the BMEL and amend its stance on CBD products. Fingers crossed the BVL will take heed of the BMEL’s decision and return to a more sensible approach to CBD. Furthermore hopefully this can be the precursor to other bodies such as the FSA acknowledging that whole plant extracts have been in use pre 1997 and do not need to be placed on the novel food register.”
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