Updated EU rules on ‘novel foods’ get it wrong on CBD

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A recent update to the European Union’s Novel Food Catalogue is mistaken in its consideration of CBD, cannabis veteran and consultant Richard Rose writes in a detailed report issued late last week.

“The recent EU Novel Food Catalogue update was incorrect. Hemp flower products indeed have demonstrated long use, including Cannabidiol (CBD),” Rose wrote in a heavily researched and footnoted paper that argues CBD is not a novel food.

What is novel food?

Novel food is defined as food that was not consumed to a considerable degree by citizens of the EU prior to 1997, when the first regulation on novel food came into force. Novel food can be newly developed, innovative food, food produced using new technologies and production processes, and food traditionally eaten outside the EU. The regulation requires such foods be safe and be properly labeled so as not to mislead consumers, among other requirements. The upshot for food producers is a more burdensome marketplace as novel foods undergo stringent and costly authorization requirements.

Hemp flower products such as hempseed and hempseed oil (extract) are authorized novel foods under EU rules, exempt from registration as new novel foods due to demonstrated consumption in member states prior to May 1997, Rose points out.

History of consumption

But the EU Novel Food Catalogue was recently updated to state that “extracts of Cannabis sativa L. and derived products containing cannabinoids, including Cannabidiol, are considered novel foods as a history of consumption has not been demonstrated.”

Writes Rose: “However, since a history of consumption has already been demonstrated for hempseed oil, and it is well-known that hempseed oil is known to contain cannabinoids from the resin adhering to the outside of the seed, and it is well-known that Cannabidiol is the predominant cannabinoid in hemp varieties of Cannabis sativa L., it logically follows that a history of Cannabidiol consumption has already been demonstrated.”

“The E.U. has, long before May 1997, allowed the free sale of hempseed oil which was well-known to contain THC and CBD. Its silence, despite numerous studies, indicates assent,” Rose argues.

[See the The Rose Report, March 1, 2019: “Hempseed oil is exempt but one of the naturally-occurring chemicals in it is not“]

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