Novel Foods Act UK - is CBD a Novel Food?

Novel Foods Act UK - is CBD a Novel Food? - Natural Organic Pure Clean CBD Oils | NOPC



Will CBD become classified as a Novel Food and potentially be reclassified as a medicine, due to the mass media marketing and CBD industries sales approach which dangerously pushes CBD to be reclassified as medicine by Government agencies? 

Will CBD manufacturers, high street sellers and stockists of CBD soon be shut down overnight and stock swiftly removed from their shelves?

Old News you might think? ... 

... not quite so, this initiative is still very much current and live…without full closure.


A Novel Food is defined as food that had not been consumed to a significant degree by humans in the EU before 15 May 1997, when the regulations were introduced.

The principles are that any prospective foods must be safe for consumers and properly labeled, so as not to mislead consumers.


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Whilst consumers toy with the idea of trying CBD, or are busy researching what it is, how much to take, etc. there are some serious matters going on behind the scenes of the huge CBD industry, including whether or not that product you have bought, or thinking of buying even contains CBD and companies who illegally make medicinal claims! 

It’s not just retailers that are to blame for the uncertainties surrounding the authenticity of products, the UK is still lacking in qualified cannabis experts due to the industry still being very new. And in some CBD testing labs, the lack of experts is causing some clumsy errors, resulting in some products being wrongly verified and passed, then mistakenly slipping through the net and on to our high street shelves. 

But, even with unreliable testing in the UK, it’s not the CBD that worries people, it’s everything else the products could possibly contain. 

Thankfully, it has been reported that there have never been any issues or cases linked to any harmful CBD products in the UK.

The World Health Organisation has said that “to date, there is no evidence of public health-related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.” 


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So with rules regularly being broken and with hardly any effective supervision from regulators, how can consumers feel confident that their CBD products are safe?

With so many products available to buy from thousands of sellers, of course, it's very tempting and easy to just grab the most affordable CBD you can find online, but cheaper isn’t necessarily better. We urge you to do your research before buying CBD products, after all, there are some huge price differences out there which should make you wonder why and how there can be such a big contrast.

We advise that you go for quality, not low price, high-quality CBD does not come cheap, the costs involved in making it includes; organic farming, supercritical extraction methods in order to maintain as much of its goodness as possible, testing plus much more... how could anyone possibly create a very cheap oil in this way? cheap products usually mean low-quality CBD which is often diluted too.

Firstly make sure the company you are thinking of buying from is fully compliant with the regulations, and look out for the following:

  • Third-party Lab Results
  • Check the farming processes
  • Making sure the source uses CO2 Extraction (Petroleum-Free Processing)
  • Less than .03% THC

Buying CBD products from a company which is an accredited member of the CTA (Cannabis Trades Association) is highly advised, as you can be assured that they are a safe and reputable company which has had its products legally tested, and is fully compliant with regulations, with the guarantee that as a CTA member they have been fully checked and audited before being approved, this includes criminal background checks.


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In the UK, we have a number of regulatory agencies, including the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) who have set regulatory changes stating that anyone selling CBD oil is no longer allowed to make any claim regarding the efficacy, potential benefits or medical claims about CBD.

But sadly this rule is constantly being broken, thanks to global media exposure!

CBD is all over the media, and the internet is full of testimonials relating to CBD oil. A quick google search will give you great insight into why CBD has gained so much attention, it is also a very confusing subject to research as there are so many conflicting reports. And customers often question why some CBD retailers won’t discuss certain topics.

Here's why...

Anyone who sells CBD oil is NOT allowed to make any medical claims about CBD in discussion or their advertising. This includes; posters and leaflets, web pages, blog articles, social media pages, or customer testimonials and reviews… simply anything that a company would use in order to represent their business in any way.

However, if you do not sell CBD oil, you can pretty much say what you like, you can share your own experiences or the experiences of others, and discuss medical research wherever you like.

We believe that nearly all CBD sellers if asked honestly, would admit to being guilty of passing on such media stories at some point in an attempt to educate the public on CBD - however as 1000's of new CBD sellers are popping up across the globe by the day and in many cases with unrealistic CBD levels and fake products the industry needs to tidy up and a mass clean up of the cowboys ...




In 2016, the MHRA released a statement regarding CBD oil which included this:

“ We have come to the opinion that products containing cannabidiol (CBD) used for medical purposes are medicine. Medicinal products must have a product licence (marketing authorisation) before they can be legally sold, supplied or advertised in the UK, unless exempt. Licensed medicinal products have to meet safety, quality and efficacy standards to protect public health.”


At first, this statement had the CBD industry frightened and shaken, but it's important to note what they are actually saying here:

" We have come to the opinion that products containing cannabidiol (CBD) used for medical purposes are medicine. ”  

The part which states: ‘‘used for medical purposes" is vital!

- as this means that CBD oil is only a medicine if it’s used as a medicine.


The MHRA defines medicine as:

“Any substance or combination of substances presented as having properties for treating or preventing disease in human beings; [the first/presentational limb] Any substance or combination of substances which may be used in, or administered to, human beings, either with a view to restoring, correcting or modifying physiological functions by exerting a pharmacological, immunological or metabolic action or to making a medical diagnosis” 



So, what this means...

If a CBD company makes any claim anywhere in their shop, website, or social media accounts as to any potential benefit of CBD oil, they are making a medical claim. So they are selling CBD oil as a medicine and therefore, selling medicine without a license, which is against the law.

Meaning .... that anyone without a licence to sell medicines MUST sell CBD oil as a food supplement and CANNOT make any claims regarding any potential benefits of CBD oil.



CBD companies need to take notice of these rules and stop making illegal claims, as consequently, this could have very serious implications and potentially ruin the good nature of the CBD industry. If the industry continues in this way the government, along with the MHRA and FSA may seek to take a stern approach to CBD by the reclassification of medicine. 

This would mean it will only be available on prescription and at a great cost! Resulting in natural, organic CBD being replaced by medicinal marijuana and synthetic cannabinoids, replacing mother nature's wonder supplement - a devastating blow to such an amazing natural plant.

  cbd in the news-nopc oils blog


So let’s recap on the events relating to CBD and its classification:

In June 2017, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) contacted the CTA to inform them of its intentions to review the status of CBD extracts and consider placing them under the Novel Foods Regulation.

Classifying CBD as Novel Foods, and not food supplements anymore would create extremely restrictive control on how CBD products could be offered to consumers. In turn, this would mean stopping the sales within a high demand industry and businesses would have to stop selling CBD products and close down.



In January 2019 - Sean Poulter for the Daily Mail reported that... 

“ Watchdogs are set to ban High Street CBD 'cannabis' oil for up to 18 months as experts probe whether it has any real health benefits ”


A decision by British and European food watchdogs to classify cannabidiol as a 'novel food' means it now needs to go through an approval process.

Britain's Food Standards Agency (FSA) has indicated it will ask local council trading standards officers to remove products from sale until this approval process is complete, which could take 12-18 months.

Source: Daily Mail 


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Response to the news article created mass public concern towards the CBD industry, consumers worried that their CBD supply would soon be removed.  And businesses were extremely concerned that they would no longer be able to trade and have to close down.

The CBD Industries along with the CTA members got together and many UK petitions were started challenging this proposal by the FSA & EFSA. 

The CTA (Cannabis Trades Association UK) responded to the major concerns and stir this had created by beginning a series of meetings with the FSA and the head of the Novel Foods section. Their aim was to demonstrate that CBD products were historically not Novel and that restricting their sales by demanding regulation was not appropriate.

They swiftly notified members that the CTA together with specialist lawyers appointed (Mackrell Turner Grant) including leading trading standards barristers would defend and rigorously challenge FSA & EFSA proposed Novel Foods classification.  

The Novel Food Regulations ((EU) 2015/2283) (the “NFR’) requires that ‘novel’ foods obtain authorisation before being sold as a foodstuff within the EU. A Foodstuff can be considered ‘novel’ if it was not consumed by humans to any significant degree prior to May 1997.


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On the 12 March 2019, all relevant legal representatives along with CTA representatives travelled to Brussels to meet with EFSA, FSA for a pre-planned 1-hour meeting which lasted for 3 hours, full of in-depth discussions relating to CBD oils and products.

The FSA acknowledged that it was not fully aware of the processes and manufacturing of CBD oils and therefore relaxed its approach while further investigations were conducted.

Up until this point and the recent change to the EU Novel Food Catalogue which affected many CBD products. CBD businesses had not been able to show there was a significant history of consumption of these products in food and food supplements prior to May 1997 in the EU.

Under the Novel Food Regulations, foods or food ingredients which do not have a history of consumption need to be evaluated and authorised before they are permitted to be placed on the market.

The European Commission’s Working Group of Novel Foods catalogues the term ‘Cannabinoids’  extracts of Cannabis Sativa L. derived from products containing cannabinoids thus considered as novel foods as any history of consumption has not been demonstrated.” or recorded. 

However, further evidence gathered collectively by the CBD industry, CTA members and lawyers including information presented at the meeting by the European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA) shows detailed evidence of hemp and hemp extracts being used as early as 1220 - long before May 1997, ruling out its ‘novel food’ status. 

EIHA was asked by the European Commission to advise on traditional or novel food status of hemp extracts and said: 

“Hemp extracts were indeed made and sold in products, which would nowadays be called supplements. We are requesting the European Commission to recognise hemp extracts with naturally occurring CBD levels as traditional in food.”



     cannabis hemp and cbd history-link to blog-nopc oils



So many unanswered questions remain ...

The case for CBD Vs Novel Foods Act - is still an open case at present lawyers from (Mackrell Turner Grant) representing the CBD industry combined with the CTA are still challenging this position and are currently awaiting a further meeting in October to be able to finally put this topic to bed once and for all!

What would happen to you the consumer if CBD was classified as a Novel Food by the FSA & EFSA?

Would CBD sales enter the black market?

Where does the MHRA sit in relation to the future of CBD (Cannabidiol) and Natures supplement? 


Unfortunately, you cannot escape seeing the same stories being published and passed around the globe, especially within the 1000’s of facebook groups, YouTube and many other social platforms .... but you can make your own mind up and ensure that you source your CBD products from an accredited CTA member and one with great reviews... 
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 ...and… if you can’t find detailed, specific or compelling information on CBD or the Endocannabinoid system on our website or our Blogs, try joining a group forum where you can ask questions and speak with other CBD enthusiasts and the CBD curious... Go to: CBD Oil - Natural & Organic Facebook community  


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