CBD is still in the process of being recognized as part of novel foods

Novel Foods

CBD & Hemp Dictionary | 01.02.2022

Novel foods are subject to EU-wide standardized regulations, in order to achieve a high level of protection of human health on the one hand and to enable the smooth functioning of the internal market on the other. Therefore, novel foods must undergo a health assessment before they can be placed on the market.

But you might wonder, what are Novel Foods exactly? Novel Foods are foods, food ingredients, and food production methods that have not been used before May 1997 for human consumption to a significant degree within the European Community.

Novel Foods explained

Novel foods are only allowed to be used in food when they have been through an approval process to check that they do not present a danger to consumers and that their use does not mislead consumers.

Novel foods include foods:

  • with a new or modified molecular structure
  • from microorganisms, fungi, or algae
  • from materials of mineral origin
  • from plants or parts of plants
  • from animals or their parts
  • from cell or tissue cultures
  • produced by a non-standard process
  • from technically produced nanomaterials (vitamins and minerals)

Food business operators (distributors) check on their own responsibility whether their food falls under the Novel Food Regulation or not. Therefore, they must use the guideline issued by the European Commission.

CBD & Novel Foods

In the United States, as well as in the United Kingdom, there is already quite a wide range of foods that are infused with CBD (cannabidiol). There you can find cannabidiol in the ingredient lists of gummy bears, chocolate, or burgers. In Germany (and the rest of the EU), the approval process for CBD, which is expressly classified as safe by the WHO, has not yet been completed.

According to the BVL (Federal Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety),

no significant consumption of the substance cannabidiol (CBD) has been documented before May 15, 1997. Therefore, it is assessed as a new type in the Novel Food Catalog of the European Commission under the entry "Cannabinoids". This means that approval according to the Novel Food Regulation is required. Therefore, they cannot be included in food or food supplements until a safety assessment has been completed and the use as a novel food has been authorised.

However, the European Commission is currently reviewing more than 50 applications in which CBD-containing foods are being considered novel foods. Whether and when the consumption of products containing CBD will finally be available throughout the EU has not yet been conclusively clarified.

The CBD products that are already accepted in the trade, and which you can also find on our website, are declared as a flavor and cosmetic products. Among them, you can find aromatic bath salts, hair oil, and massage oils in various scents, for example.

History of Novel Foods

Initially, novel food legislation was drafted by the European Commission in response to the emergence of foods derived from genetically engineered plants. However, these types of food products are now regulated by a separate piece of legislation. In December 2013, the Commission finally decided to present a proposal whose scope was limited to the safety of novel foods.

Good to know about Novel Foods

Despite the fact that novel food legislation is considered a cornerstone of food safety, several EU member states have raised concerns about the novel food procedure since it is not considered clear and transparent enough. Moreover, it can take years to evaluate foods. There was a call for a centralized approval process that would simplify the review process. Among the changes, foods that have been proven safe in developing countries do not have to undergo extensive testing. This issue is still being debated today.