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EFSA said its scientists could not currently establish the safety of CBD as a Novel Food due to ‘data gaps’ and ‘uncertainties’ about potential hazards related to CBD intake.

The organisation’s expert Panel on Nutrition, Novel Foods and Food Allergens (NDA) has received 19 applications for CBD as a novel food, with more in the pipeline. Unless these applications are approved, products containing CBD cannot legally be sold in EU member states.

The position statement comes as the Food Standards Agency continues to update its list of CBD food and drink suppliers that it considers have submitted a credible Novel Foods application. The list is not a guarantee of approval and is expected to be finalised by 30 June​.

‘Several hazards’

Chair of the NDA panel Professor Dominique Turck said: “We have identified several hazards related to CBD intake and determined that the many data gaps on these health effects need filling before these evaluations can go ahead. It is important to stress at this point that we have not concluded that CBD is unsafe as food.”

The panel concluded there was insufficient data on the effect of CBD on the liver, gastrointestinal tract, endocrine system, nervous system and on people’s psychological well-being.

Studies in animals show significant adverse effects especially in relation to reproduction. It is important to determine if these effects are also seen in humans.

‘Stopping the clock’

Ana Afonso, head of nutrition and food innovation at EFSA, stated: “Stopping the clock on a Novel Food assessment is not unusual when information is missing. It’s the responsibility of applicants to fill data gaps. We are engaging with them to explain how the additional information can be provided to help address the uncertainties.”