The Cannabis Trades Association (CTA) has criticised the UK’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) for ‘failing to support’ the industry amid Covid-19, after the FSA declined to extend the deadline to present valid novel food applications.
Earlier this year, the FSA announced a deadline of 31 March 2021 for businesses selling CBD products to submit valid novel food authorisation applications – warning that failure to do so in time would result in products being “taken off the shelves”.
However, at the end of last month the CTA requested an extension of this requirement in light of Covid-19’s impact upon the economy.
In a statement to FoodBev, Michael Wight, head of food safety policy at the FSA, confirmed that the March 2021 deadline still applies and said: “Some initial applications are already being lodged and we’re continuing to support businesses on completing their applications during this time.
“We understand that businesses are working in unprecedented times but we have no evidence to suggest that our position needs to be reviewed. Businesses still have 11 months in which to submit a valid application. As we made clear at the time of our announcement in February, businesses already had well over a year to progress their novel food applications.
“We consider that the total of over two years until the deadline of 31 March 2021 is sufficient time to progress applications despite the current circumstances.
“We encourage the CBD industry to put the safety of consumers first and develop the necessary evidence for consideration of CBD extracts as novel foods.”
The CTA refutes the FSA’s assessment that Covid-19 does not justify reviewing the deadline: “We consider this demonstrably incorrect. Many of our members have had to furlough staff and in lockdown, business activities will clearly reduce. Staff in the laboratories and other ancillary industries will also be in lockdown and therefore capacity will be substantially reduced.”
The trade association said that it considered the FSA’s verdict to be particularly unjust considering many of its members have reportedly pivoted their operations to aid the NHS and other healthcare businesses.
“A refusal to extend the deadline could see companies that have committed to this fight, potentially fail in the future when they do not have the time to fulfil the requirements for novel foods,” said the CTA.
In concluding, the CTA expressed its view that in any case the “majority” of CBD products in the UK market are unable to comply with the novel food regulations as, it says, they are manufactured from a natural ingredient rather than “a denatured and standardised one”.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2020