FSA wants to ban most CBD products – But are they able to?

FSA wants to ban CBD products
Written by Dennis Mattern

In short

  • The FSA wants to ban all CBD products in the UK for which no valid application for the novel food authorisation process have been submitted by 31st March 2021.
  • The reason for this measure are dubious brands and products as well as potential adverse health effects.
  • However, the FSA can only advise the local authorities. They are not responsible for enforcement decisions.

Over the last few days there have been numerous reports and articles about the potential ban of most CBD products in the UK. The media widely reported about the situation without going deeper into what this actually means for the market. The CannaTrust editorial department took the time to look deeper into the latest incidents.

The furore has been caused by a recently released statement of the FSA (Food Safety Agency) in which the government body sets a ‘deadline of 31 March 2021 to submit valid novel food authorisation applications’. Emily Miles (CEO of FSA) stated that:

CBD products are widely available on the high street but are not properly authorised. The CBD industry must provide more information about the safety and contents of these products to the regulator before 31 March 2021, or the products will be taken off the shelves.

(…) The actions that we’re taking today are a pragmatic and proportionate step in balancing the protection of public health with consumer choice. It’s now up to industry to supply this information so that the public can be reassured that CBD is safe and what it says it is.

The FSA adopted this statement on their own website and added it to their ‘Business guidance on cannabidiol (CBD) as a novel food‘.

The FSA justifies the statement with the fact that there have been barely any applications for the authorisation process as novel food under the EU regulations. As a result there are many inferior CBD products available to consumers at the moment. As a result the FSA is concerned about the publics health.

Additionally, in ther statement the FSA advices consumers of CBD products to never take more than 70mg of cannabidiol per day (ca. 28 drops of a 5% CBD oil). Pregnant women, nursing mothers and people who take medication on a regular basis are advised to not use any CBD at all. This is claimed to be a reaction to recent findings of the COT (Committee on Toxicity). The committee reported to having found potential adverse health effects of cannabidiol. But the chair of the COT Alan Boobis also said:

We don’t know enough to be sure about such a risk but I am pleased with the sensible and pragmatic approach the FSA is taking. The committee will continue to keep these products under review in the months ahead.

We looked deeper into this and reached the following conclusions:

  • It is thoroughly positive that the FSA is planning to regulate the market for CBD products. The lack of regulations is the reason why there are so many inferior products right now. We just think that all this should have happened much earlier. The FSA began with the ‘regulation of the CBD market’ just last January.
  • CBD manufacturers and brands only have to submit a valid application by the 31st March 2021. The statement of the FSA does not contain any information on the duration of the validation process or on when it will be mandatory for products to actually have passed such authorisation process in order to be legally sold.
  • The FSA is the ‘Central Competent Authoriy (CCA) for food safety‘, however local authorities are responsible for the day to day enforcement of food law. This means that the FSA does not have the competence to take products off the shelves. Only local authorities can make specific enforcement decisions.
  • The FSA refers to the novel food catalogue of the European Union. What about the BREXIT though?


  • The FSA made a statement which was certainly meant to serve the future regulation of the CBD market.
  • However, the FSA does not have the power to enforce the deadline they have set themselves.
  • Additionally, the current statement will mostly just irritate brands as well as consumers and cause an instable market situation.

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About the author

Dennis Mattern

Dennis Mattern

Dennis is an essential part of the CannaTrust team. He has been with us since day 1 and is COO and Account Manager for CannaTrust. He himself has already gained many personal experiences with CBD. Several members of his family use cannabinoid products for their chronic diseases.