Emily Miles on regulating CBD

Posted: 13 May 2022 | | No comments yet

FSA’s Chief Executive Officer speaks up about the challenges of CBD validation and offers clear guidance over next steps.

The FSA Takeaway GM foodsAs a regulator, the Food Standards Agency’s (FSA) job is to protect consumers and make sure that food businesses are doing the right thing. We also have a responsibility to ensure that the way we regulate helps industry to innovate and doesn’t hinder the growth of new markets.

The challenge of getting this balance right has been evident in our work to regulate the cannabidiol (CBD) market. This is a booming sector offering a huge range of CBD-infused products, but none have been through the formal safety assessment required in law. There is little evidence of significant harm, but neither is there evidence of safety. We are also concerned that some products may not be what they say they are.

We want to ensure that this sector is better regulated, so that consumers can trust what they are buying. In March, we published a list of CBD products linked to a credible application for authorisation. The idea is that if a product is not on the list, it should be removed from sale.

We believe this offers a pragmatic and proportionate approach to regulation, allowing products that are moving towards full authorisation to stay on the market and ensuring enforcement authorities prioritise action against those products that aren’t in the FSA authorisation process.

Our announcement about the list in March prompted some businesses to come forward with additional evidence linking their products to applications, which we are reviewing: FSA issues final call for CBD products to be added to the list. We also excluded some products linked to an individual application in error.

We now plan to lock down the CBD list by the end of June 2022 and have made a final call to businesses to provide evidence to us. Our latest interview with New Food gives an overview of our advice and the next steps in the process. We acknowledge that this has been a difficult process for both sides. We are holding onto our belief that good regulation will support this growing sector. Food that consumers can trust is good for business.

We are urging any CBD businesses with evidence they have that links their products to credible applications to send it to us as soon as possible, but no later than 26 May 2022 for consideration. Businesses that wish to supply evidence for their products for possible inclusion on the public list can also provide evidence of studies they have commissioned, for example toxicological studies. These will need to have been commissioned either before or after the deadline for applications in March 2021, and the evidence of commissioning must be submitted before 26 May 2022.

About the author

Emily Miles is the Chief Executive Officer of the FSA. She took up the role on 23 September 2019 after moving from Defra. Emily has worked largely on home affairs issues at the Home Office, Downing Street and Cabinet Office. She was political advisor of home affairs to former Prime Minister Tony Blair between 2002-2005. She holds a Masters in the international law of armed conflict and international criminal justice from the University of Nottingham, and her first degree was from the University of Cambridge in English.