The UK’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) has significantly reduced the recommended daily CBD intake from food products. This change follows a thorough review of a joint position paper submitted by the Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Process and the Committee on Toxicity (COT). As per the updated guidance, the FSA now suggests a maximum daily CBD intake of 10mg, roughly equivalent to “about 4-5 drops of 5% CBD oil.” This is a substantial decrease from the previous recommendation of 70mg, which was in place three years ago, as reported by Hemp Today.
This adjustment contrasts with the European Industrial Hemp Association’s proposal to the European Food Safety Authority, which suggested a maximum daily intake of 17.5mg of CBD.
The FSA’s decision to revise its recommendations was based on an analysis of safety data collected from over 12,000 products being considered for market approval under the country’s regulations for new food items.
The FSA notes that it continues to warn against the use of CBD by people in vulnerable groups, such as children, those taking medicine without consulting a healthcare professional, pregnant or breastfeeding women, and people actively trying to conceive.
It’s vital to remember that these new restrictions only apply to CBD consumed through food and do not apply to items inhaled or applied to the skin.
Health Concerns Surrounding Lower CBD Intake Limits
Robin May, the Chief Scientific Advisor at the FSA, has cautioned consumers regarding potential liver issues associated with CBD consumption. May stated, “The more CBD you use throughout your life, the higher the likelihood of experiencing long-term adverse effects, such as liver damage or thyroid complications. The level of risk is directly tied to the quantity consumed, similar to how it works with other potentially harmful substances like alcoholic beverages.”
According to the report, a comprehensive and scientifically rigorous assessment of chronic daily lifetime usage of Pure Form CBD (with a purity level of ≥98%) in food products is yet to be completed. Consequently, it cannot be dismissed that prolonged, daily, and chronic use of pure form CBD at intake levels exceeding 10 mg per day might contribute to the emergence of adverse effects over time, particularly impacting the liver.
The updated recommendation regarding the acceptable daily intake (ADI) is grounded in the findings of three 90-day repeat dose toxicology studies, which did not reveal any adverse effects on the livers of rodents. The report’s authors have underscored that there are still notable data gaps and uncertainties concerning reproductive and developmental toxicity, immunotoxicity, bioavailability, and potential drug interactions.
Industry Response and Lack of Evidence
Emily Miles, the CEO of the FSA, acknowledged the repercussions of our revised guidance on products currently available in the market containing more than 10mg of CBD per serving. In a statement, she emphasized, “We will collaborate closely with the industry to mitigate risks and ensure that consumers are not exposed to potentially harmful levels of CBD.”
It’s essential to note that while the FSA has not mandated product recalls, the decision to continue selling products exceeding the new daily limit falls to retailers. Nevertheless, the impact of the FSA’s guidance is already evident. Holland & Barrett, a multinational chain of health food stores, has proactively removed over 30 CBD products from its shelves that surpass the ADI.
Companies in the cannabis sector have expressed disappointment with the FSA’s updated recommendation. The Canna Consultants, headquartered in London and dedicated to facilitating the cannabinoid industry, conveyed to Hemp Today that these changes deal a significant blow to the entire UK CBD industry, leading to consumer confusion and investor apprehensions. They also warned about potential revenue loss, reduced tax receipts, and inevitable job cuts.
Mike Barnes from Maple Tree Consultants, a London-based cannabis advisory firm, contended that the new ADI lacks solid evidence support. He pointed out that, given the average dose required for well-being or medical benefits falls between 60 and 120mg per day, this recommendation effectively threatens the industry’s viability.
Navigating the Future of the UK CBD Industry
The FSA’s decision to drastically reduce the acceptable daily intake (ADI) of CBD in food products has sent ripples through the UK CBD industry. As businesses grapple with these new regulations, they face a challenging path forward.
Regulatory Compliance: CBD companies in the UK are now under pressure to ensure their products comply with the revised ADI. This involves reformulating existing products, reevaluating labeling, and adhering to the 10mg per serving limit. It’s a race against time for many companies, as non-compliant products could face removal from the market.
Consumer Education: With the changes in recommended CBD intake, it’s vital for companies to educate consumers about the new guidelines and why they are in place. Clarity in product labeling and marketing is crucial to avoid misunderstandings and maintain trust.
Innovation and Product Development: Companies are likely to explore new product formulations to adapt to the lower CBD intake limits. This could lead to innovations in product design, such as improved bioavailability or alternative delivery methods.
International Markets: CBD companies based in the UK may increasingly look to international markets to make up for potential revenue losses domestically. Expanding into markets with different regulatory frameworks presents its own set of challenges, but it could be a viable strategy for growth.
Scientific Research: The industry may see increased investment in scientific research to address the knowledge gaps identified by the FSA. This can help provide a more comprehensive understanding of CBD’s safety profile and support future regulatory decisions.
Advocacy and Lobbying: Industry associations and businesses may engage in advocacy and lobbying efforts to influence future regulatory decisions. They might seek to present evidence supporting higher CBD intake limits based on their own research and experiences.
Consumer Preferences: Ultimately, consumer preferences and choices will play a significant role in shaping the industry’s future. Businesses that can adapt to these preferences while adhering to regulatory constraints are more likely to succeed.
The reduction of the acceptable daily intake (ADI) for CBD in UK food products signifies a significant shift in the industry landscape. CBD businesses must swiftly adapt to these new regulations and the lower intake limits. The key to success lies in regulatory compliance, rigorous consumer education, innovative product development, and potential expansion into international markets. Scientific research and advocacy efforts are essential in influencing future regulatory decisions, as the industry grapples with the challenges posed by the FSA’s updated guidelines. Ultimately, consumer preferences will be a driving force in shaping the industry’s trajectory, and businesses that can balance these preferences with compliance will be best positioned to thrive in this evolving CBD market.
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