EFSA Halts CBD Novel Food Evaluations, Citing ‘Data Gaps and Uncertainty’

EFSA Halts Novel Food Application Evaluations, Citing ‘Data Gaps and Uncertainty’ - European Food Safety Authority - GCI Content Hub - Global Cannabis Intelligence

The rocky road to cannabis commercialisation across Europe continues, with CBD thrusted once more into the spotlight.

In a statement on the safety of cannabidiol as a novel food by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), it has been revealed that EFSA scientists have renewed reservations about the popular cannabinoid.

Citing data gaps and uncertainties around possible hazards resulting from CBD intake, EFSA scientists “cannot currently establish the safety of cannabidiol”.

CBD Safety Data Gaps and Uncertainties

It was reported that EFSA’s expert panel on Nutrition, Novel Foods and Food Allergens (NDA) had received 19 novel food applications for CBD, with more expected.

However, NDA Panel Chair, Dominique Turck was clear with his reasoning as to why these evaluations would be put on pause.

“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”, Turck stated.

Keen to highlight that the issue here is one of data gaps, rather than a condemnation of CBD’s safety, Turck continued to say that “it is important to stress at this point that we have not concluded that CBD is unsafe as food”.

Despite CBD’s widespread adoption across the Health and Wellness consumer segment in many countries, Turck stressed that there is still an array of areas in which EFSA scientists are seeking more data to determine the cannabinoid’s safety.

“There is 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”.

Support for Novel Food Applicants

Aware of the disruption this will cause to those novel food applicants, Head of Nutrition and Food Innovation at EFSA, Ana Afonso, stated that “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.”

Afonso also made clear that “we are engaging with them to explain how the additional information can be provided to help address the uncertainties.”

Moreover, EFSA will be holding an online event later this month to offer advice and support to folks seeking clarity on this particular impasse, in addition to providing more information to people about novel food applications more generally.

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