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Novel Food Ruling; A ‘Smokescreen For EU Regulation’

novel food
Written by Peter McCusker

European Union efforts to class CBD as a Novel Food are little more than a ‘smokescreen’ for authorities to clampdown on the industry, it has been claimed.

Mike Harlington, Chairman of the Cannabis Trades Association which has around 900 members in 27 countries worldwide, has been battling the EU decision for the last six months.

In an interview with CBD Testers he said: “Novel Food is a smokescreen, it has nothing to do with CBD being a Novel Food. But it is totally about EU Governments wanting to get a handle on what CBD products are out there, what is being sold, whether it is legal, and where it comes from. 

“Because at the moment they just don’t know. They simply don’t have clue.”

‘Trust in TrustCanna Initiative’

However, Mr Harlington says the talks between the European Union and the CTA may be close to a resolution which prevents CBD being stripped from the shelves. Earlier this month CBD Testers reported on a new global initiative called TrustCanna, which has been launched in the U.K. with the backing of the CTA.

The TrustCanna seal of approval

It aims to eradicate the compliance and safety concerns of regulators by validating the contents of all retail CBD products and awarding a TrustCanna seal of approval, granted the products are marketed and tested in line with the guidelines that were designed with the FSA and MHRA in the UK.

Mr Harlington continued: “We have learnt that the European Union has no intention of altering the decision on their designation of CBD as a Novel Food. They have seen all the evidence and they will not move. 

“However, we have now learnt through one member state, that there may be a solution to this, if we can secure buy-in and adherence from the industry on the TrustCanna initiative. 

“CBD companies, in all countries, need to be clear about what products they are selling.  Who’s selling what, whether its safe and whether it’s legal. The EU regulators have concerns on these issues, they need to ensure consumers are safe. The industry needs to show it can comply with a self-imposed regulatory regime and then we may be able to proceed to some form of legislation.”

Nothing Novel About CBD Attack

In January this year the EFSA (European Food Standards Agency) said there is no evidence that CBD had been widely used prior to 1997, so it would therefore be classed as ‘Novel Food’ – meaning it would have to undergo an approval process.

novel food

CBD laws are expected to change throughout much of Europe

Across Europe – in Spain, Germany, Austria, Italy and other EU countries – Governments and their agencies said they would look to remove CBD products from sale during that process.

In the U.K. the Food Standards Agency (FSA) released the following statement: ‘The FSA accepts the recent change to the EU Novel Food Catalog which affects some cannabidiol (CBD) products and are committed to finding a proportionate way forward by working with local authorities, businesses and consumers to clarify how to achieve compliance in the marketplace in a proportionate manner.’ 

The CTA, the European Industrial Hemp Association had challenged the Novel Food ruling saying there is ample evidence that cannabis has been used for thousands of years.

Crunch Talks in July

Mr Harlington is heading back to Brussels hoping the TrustCanna compromise proposal will clinch a deal. He said: “We have argued our case, supported by legal counsel and our leading lawyers. In our opinion there is no legal justification for the Novel Food designation.

“This uncertainty has caused great distress to our members so we are very pleased to say there may be a resolution at hand. By following the specific rules of the TrustCanna initiative we may be able to come to a resolution and the upside to all of this, for everyone, is that it will be great for the mainstream industry and drive a lot of people out of the industry, who shouldn’t be in it.”

‘Don’t Spoil it for Everyone Else’

“The industry is getting more and more professional, but there are still people who need to be removed; these people should not be allowed to spoil it for everyone else.

“At the CTA, when we find non-compliance in a member, we work with them to be compliant, if that fails we remove them.  There isn’t a single UK or European business that has an argument not to become part of a recognized association if they sell their products correctly in line with the law.

“We are an industry that is focused on highlighting the benefits of all cannabinoids, to ensure good practice and good standards. The TrustCanna initiative is not just for CTA members it is for all of the industry. It has to be for everyone, it has to be a trusted process for everyone to register: it doesn’t matter if you are a CTA member or not.

“Our hope is that it will eventually be based in European law and will provide the assurances the regulators require.” The CTA has around 900 members in 27 countries whose total revenues expected to more than double from U.S. $0.6 billion in 2017 to $2.2 billion this year.

As well as 18 European countries, it has members in Canada, the United States, South America, Malaysia, the Caribbean and Thailand.

 CBD Testers is awaiting a response from the European Food Standards Agency.

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About the author

Peter McCusker

Peter McCusker is an experienced news and business editor, who believes it’s time to fully embrace the multiple, proven, medical benefits of the cannabis plant.