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CBD & Novel Foods Regulations

What are novel foods? What does it mean for Cannatural? What impact will it have on the brands and products being sold?

A look at the new regulations and the changes it could bring…


What are Novel Foods?

Novel foods are foods which have not been widely consumed by people in the UK or European Union (EU) before May 1997. This means that the foods do not have a ‘history of consumption’.

The novel food status of CBD extracts was confirmed in January 2019, with regulatory framework coming into play on 31st March 2021. After this date, only brands that were on sale before February 2020 and have submitted a novel food authorisation application will be allowed to remain on the market.


Which products will be affected?

The regulations will only affect ‘food’ items or ingestible products such as oils, capsules, honey, tea etc. There will be no impact on other types of products such as topical, skincare or even vape products.

There is a feeling that a casualty of the regulations could be ‘full spectrum’ products, although this hasn’t been confirmed. Full spectrum products are products that contain the whole plant, including the 100+ cannabinoids found in cannabis, terpenes, flavonoids, and other beneficial compounds. Most notably full spectrum products contain a cannabinoid called THC, which is responsible for the ‘high’ effect when consuming cannabis. However, it also comes with a plethora of health benefits and contributes to something called the ‘entourage effect’ when used alongside other cannabinoids and compounds found in cannabis.

Whilst it is thought ‘broad spectrum’ products, which are the same as ‘full spectrum’ but have THC removed, will fare better, it is concerning that we could be heading to an isolate or synthetic only framework. This means none of the extra beneficial compounds a natural product brings, just pure lab extracted, or created CBD.


How will it impact Cannatural?

Whilst Cannatural is a retailer rather than manufacturer of CBD products, it means we don’t require a license from the FSA to continue selling them. However, it is important the brands we sell have gone through the correct procedures and are authorised to both create and sell their ingestible products in the UK.

Since the initial announcement, which seems like a lifetime ago now, we have been in discussions with our suppliers regarding their stance and thoughts on tackling this. Each have their own views and approaches depending on their location and the product ranges they offer.

Generally, we are confident in the long term it won’t have a huge impact; in the short term, sadly it could mean that some brands can no longer be sold in the UK, at least for the foreseeable future.


Has Brexit played a part?

The status of CBD as a novel food was initially proposed by the European Commission back in 2019 when the UK was still part of the European Union (EU).

With the UK no longer being part of the EU, it was initially thought this could mean the end of novel foods for CBD in the UK, however the Food Standards Agency (FSA) have continued with the proposed regulations and have in fact taken a slightly different approach to the European Commission in some areas.

Whilst Brexit hasn’t directly changed anything relating to novel foods, it has created more complications with regards to importing full spectrum products into the UK. Cannatural has offered a range of international CBD brands since our inception, the majority of which are full spectrum and we have always imported the products ourselves, directly from the manufacturers. This in itself has thrown up more challenges recently and will continue to do so until there is a uniform and cohesive attitude with clearer guidelines, not only for the UK but across Europe and the rest of the World.


Can I still buy my favourite brand at Cannatural?

Unfortunately, it is hard to say exactly what will happen until there is more transparency about the situation and process as a whole. British based brands, using broad spectrum extracts or isolate bases for their products are less likely to be impacted than others.

International brands on the other hand are likely to be more heavily affected. Firstly, if the UK is only a small percentage of their customer base, navigating an expensive and complicated application procedure with no guarantees of success may not be economically viable. With the added complication of importing full spectrum products into the UK post Brexit, it could mean we will soon have to say ‘goodbye’ to some of our brand partners, or more optimistically ‘see you again soon’.

For now, at least, it is business as usual at Cannatural.


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