CBD classified as Novel Food since January 2019

As of January 2019, cannabidiol (CBD), and all other cannabinoids, are classified as Novel Food according to the the Novel Food Regulation.
The new regulation applies to extracts and any other products to which the cannabinoids have been added as an ingredient.

We get a lot of questions around this topic. Here is a summary of some key points:

What is Novel Food?

Novel foods or novel food ingredients have no history of "significant" consumption in the European Union prior to 15 May 1997. Any food or food ingredient that falls under this definition must be authorised according to the Novel Food legislation, Regulation (EC) No 258/97 of the European Parliament and of the European Council.

Applicants can consult the guidance document compiled by the European Commission which highlights the scientific information and the safety assessment report required in each case.
The Novel Food regulation stipulates that foods and food ingredients falling within the scope of this regulation must not:
•      present a danger for the consumer,
•      mislead the consumer,
•      differ from foods or food ingredients which they are intended to replace to such an extent that their normal consumption would be nutritionally
       disadvantageous for the consumer.
(Source: European Commission)

Why are CBD and other cannabinoids classified as Novel Food?
According to the majority of the Member States of the European Union, the hemp industry cannot currently prove a “significant” consumption of hemp extracts before the Novel Food catalogue was introduced on 15 May 1997.

Why are CBD products sold in some countries in the European Union? Why is the sale forbidden in other countries?

Novel Food is not a law nor a binding regulation. Most countries take the stand of the Novel Food commission but in specific cases member states may have differening opinions. To give a few examples, CBD products are widely sold in big drugstores (e.g. Kruidvat, Etos) and supermarkets (Albert Heijn) in the Netherlands. 

Can I sell CBD products?

Please consult your local authorities regarding this question, Becanex cannot give you an answer on this one!

Are there different opinions on this topic?

Yes. The EIHA (European Industrial Hemp Association) is the representative of the Hemp Processing Industry in Europe. The association is constantly busy to collect proof of use of hemp biomass (CBD and other cannabinoids) before 1997. The members argue that products that contain CBD extracted from industrial hemp plants grown within the European Union are NOT Novel Foods if the CBD content does not exceed the natural content of CBD of the original plant. The natural content of CBD in the plant is 0,1 – 5%; the broad majority of biomass contains 2 - 3% CBD. Becanex shares this view on the matter.
For further information, please click here.

How can I file a Novel Food Application?
The process takes about 2 – 3 years and includes an official application and studies. The applicant has to demonstrate possible effects of the “Novel Food” on the consumer. This was done before for e.g. with chia seeds, stevia etc. EIHA is preparing a collective Novel Food application for all members of the association. Becanex takes part in this application process.


Do you have any questions regarding the new Novel Food regulation? Feel free to contact us.