CBD Novel Food Update 2021 | What Does It Mean?

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CBD Novel Food Update 2021 | What Does It Mean?


Coming into 2021, there will be changes to the CBD that you can buy in the shops/ or online. This will be the first major attempt by authorities to regulate the CBD industry.

It will mean that many CBD products will be taken off the shelves. We have known that this was coming for a number of years and it doesn’t come as a surprise to us, but this may be heartbreaking news for many reading this.

It is a very disappointing time, but there is certainly hope at the end of this.

So, we wanted to take the time to explain what novel food is, and how it may affect the industry as a whole (including us). There are many unknowns, so we will keep this post as up to date, informative and unbias as we can.


What is Novel Food?

Over a year or so ago, the food standards agency set a deadline for CBD novel food applications as the 31st of March 2021. So, What is a ‘Novel Food’?

A novel food is defined by being a food (a substance which is eaten) that has not been widely consumed by people in the UK (or EU) before May 1997; meaning that there is no ‘history of consumption’ before this time. Examples include:

  • New Foods | For instance, Phytosterols and phytosterols (plant-based fats) found in Vegetable spreads as a replacement for butter.
  • Traditional Foods Eaten Elsewhere in the World | Baobab extracts and powders (popular as a super-antioxidant), Chia Seeds.
  • New Processed Foods | Bread which has been fortified with Vitamin D using ultraviolet light.

While we may take these foods for granted right now, before 1997, they were not part of our diets in the UK and were subject to testing and analysis before being declared a new safe edible substance.

CBD products, Hemp extracts and Cannabis extracts are currently undergoing the process of a full application to determine them a Novel Food; thus making these available to the public on an open market.

The extracts intended to be used as a novel food will go through a rigorous testing/ analysis regime:


‘Part 1

It should contain the administrative data, such as information relating to the applicant.

Part 2

It should contain information specific to the novel food such as:

  • identity of the novel food
  • production process
  • compositional data
  • specifications
  • the history of use of the novel food and/or of its source
  • proposed uses and use levels and anticipated intake
  • absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion
  • nutritional information
  • toxicological information and allergenicity

It should also include a list of all references.

Part 3

It should include:

  • the glossary or abbreviations of terms quoted throughout the dossier
  • the certificates (on the accreditation of laboratories, certificates of analyses)
  • full copies / reprints of all pertinent scientific data (published and unpublished)
  • full study reports
  • scientific opinions of national/international regulatory bodies’ 

source: https://www.food.gov.uk/business-guidance/regulated-products/novel-foods-guidance


For CBD products, the extracts and manufacturing methods are to be subject to scrutiny to determine the safety, effectiveness and quality of the extracts used. It seems that any extract with a higher than base level of THC will not be accepted during this process.

The likely extracts to pass will be: Broad-Spectrum and CBD Isolates.

There are many who strongly object to this process as they (rightly) argue that Hemp and Cannabis have been recorded to be consumed in the UK as a foodstuff since King Henry the 8th, and it was only outlawed in the last century (medical use was prohibited in the 1970s). Even last year, the Food standards agency we’re only subjecting CBD isolate to novel food analysis until (allegedly) the home office put pressure on them to include all cannabinoids (according to a Seedourfuture post).


How Will This Affect Us?

A novel food licence is not granted across the board to a substance, in this case, each extract that is being used to produce an edible CBD product must be tested and approved. There are thousands of companies who produce an extract, but only a handful will be granted a licence; the implication of this will be that only products produced with approved extracts will be available for sale. All others will be deemed either illegal or will fall somewhere in a grey area.

It is likely that any extract which contains a base level of THC will not be approved, meaning that there is potential for many full-spectrum products to be removed from sale. The law seems to be changing to try and ensure that no full container contains more than 1mg of THC; the size of this container is yet to be determined.

The impact of the legislation may mean that thousands of companies (good, bad or ugly) will find by March the 31st, their products are unsellable or illegal.

We knew that this was coming and we have ensured that our network is a tight ship, yet there are no guarantees. An application will be made on our behalf by our manufacturing partners but which extracts will be accepted, if any, is still up in the air. This seems that the approved extracts may not include our true full-spectrum extract, however.

Most likely, our products will undergo some form of reformulation to fall under UK guidelines but we will push the boundary as much as possible, and retail full-spectrum status wherever we can. Our CBD paste will be discontinued until further clarity around full-spectrum products is opened.

There are some positives to be drawn from this:


Some Good News

  • After March, the products on sale will be tested and secure making it easier for the consumer to know what they are taking. The extracts will be of high quality and there will be less chance of buying something fake.
  • Good news for us: is that CBD will finally be accepted as a ‘normal’ commodity. Over the years, we have been banned from payment platforms, denied access to bank accounts, loans, and subjected to enormously high payment gateway fees. Hopefully, this process will make it easier for ethical companies to thrive.
  • The Novel Food process will not be for cosmetics or vape products. These will still be left alone.


Some Bad News

  • Many great and ethical companies who sell full-spectrum CBD products will likely need to change their oils/extracts. This means that those who have been enjoying the full-spectrum extracts will need to either take more CBD or go underground. This may actually lower the effectiveness of products on the market and leave many who rely on these products without for an undisclosed period of time.
  • Those who go searching for full-spectrum CBD will have less protection or accountability. Those who wish to sell the products regardless may face criminal charges/ stock seized as if they are selling fully illegal cannabis.
  • There is no reason why full-spectrum should be withdrawn from sale as it is safe and effective: the last 3 years of trading has been proof of this.


The Controversy

Before finishing up the post, it is worth mentioning the controversy behind the scenes. It is no secret that there are many who believe that this process is a way to ‘medicalise’ cannabis so that it can be retained for pharmaceutical companies. We cannot deny the benefits of full-spectrum cannabis extracts, and they know there is money to be made.

It is also no great secret that senior politicians currently in government have strong links with board members of pharmaceutical companies who are involved with the growing and extraction of medical cannabis.

We like to keep a balanced view on this, and hope that common sense prevails. Many in the industry are said to be moving to fight this legally and by small acts of resistance. Could this be the first steps toward full legalisation of cannabis? We shall see.

If you want to help put pressure on the government to open access to full-spectrum CBD you learn more about the ‘Seed Our Future‘ Campaign by clicking the link here (an article from Leafie which breaks the process down). You can get involved along with us to write to your local MP and show how many people rely on full-spectrum extracts.

We feel that this is the start of the medicalisation of cannabinoids by the pharmaceutical industry, but we know that if we raise a big enough voice, we should be able to retain natural cannabinoids and reserve the right to make our own choice about which cannabinoids we consume. 

If you’d like to join the battle, send Seed Our Future a message and see how you can help!