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Confidence in the FSA and Novel Foods: Poll results from The Hemp Hound Agency

Updated: Jun 14, 2022

For the last week now, The Hemp Hound Agency has been running a poll to determine how companies are feeling in regards to CBD Novel Foods, and how the FSA has run the show.

The poll concluded at 9:30am today, and the results have been correlated, but before you read further, you need to know 3 things:

  1. The poll was created with a focus on unresolved industry issues, which the FSA seem to dismiss at every turn.

  2. It was created because I have become aware of a toxic environment within the industry, and the FSA are allowing that to happen.

  3. This poll has been sent to the FSA stakeholders meeting, which is scheduled for 15/06/2022, and it contains questions for them based on the results. The Questions for the FSA will be highlighted in Red.

Poll Dynamics

To my knowledge, this is the largest poll of its kind to be undertaken within the UK Hemp and CBD industry.

It was quite an extensive poll, but the volume of questions relates to the number of issues that are being ignore by the FSA. This was reflected in the 33:17 minute average read time, the 162 views, and 63 responses.

64.8% of entrants were from the UK, 10.4% from Canada, 4.93% each for Spain and the US, 3.7% were from Romania, 1.85% from Holland, and 1.23% from Ireland, Croatia and Germany.

The Poll is anonymous, the results can be found below

Download XLSX • 17KB

Let's just clear up the elephant though, 63 responses is not a massive amount of companies. That being said, that's potentially 3 times more members than the ACI, it's more than are on the books with The Hemp Hound Agency, and I'm very aware that companies across the affiliated spectrum have taken time to fill in this poll. Considering the concerning data that is on show here, I would ask that the FSA as a whole to take this poll seriously.

So, lets see what we can see...

Q. 1 Do you own, or work for, a business that operates within the UK Hemp and CBD industry?

(61) 96.83% yes

(2) 3.17% no

That's a good start.

Q. 2 Have you had to remove any products or services from sale due to Novel Foods requirements?

(30) 47.62% yes

(33) 52.38% no

This isn't great, but it's actually not as bad as I thought it would be.

Q. 3 How has your business been affected by Novel Foods?

(2) 3.17% Positively

(49) 77.78% Negatively

(5) 7.94% No Change

(7) 11.11% Not Sure

This is more in line with the fears I had in Q. 2.

Q. 4 Novel Foods SHOULD be about consumer safety and education, do you agree?

(59) 93.65% Yes

(2) 3.17% No

(2) 3.17% Not Sure

Really, that should read 100%. That is unless some people are identifying the process as motivated by something else from the get go...

Q. 5 Are you aware of any reports of adverse reactions from CBD supplemental products due to their cannabinoid content?

(5) 7.94% Yes

(56) 88.89% No

(2) 3.17% Not Sure

I appreciate the poll is anonymous but would like to welcome the 5 who voted yes to get in touch with me as I'd be interested to hear more regarding what the reactions were, and if they were 100% medically attributed to cannabinoids. It would be quite weird if that is the case, we can't be talking THC intolerance because of the levels that are within UK food supplements being negligible at best.

Either way, please do email with any further info.

Q. 6 Are you aware that no-one has ever died from ingesting natural cannabis, or cannabinoids that have been extracted from cannabis?

(56) 88.89% yes

(7) 11.11% No

This is the one question that I have in my head all of the time, and then I personally question the war to separate cannabis from cannabinoids, and then I have to ask the next question...

Q. 7 Do you think that Novel Foods IS about consumer safety and education?

(6) 9.52% yes

(50) 79.37% no

(7) 11.11% not sure

This is not the only time I ask this question in this poll, it is the first time I have to make a request of the FSA though.

Dear FSA, as you can see this statistic is very worrying, so could you please reaffirm what exactly the benefits are to the consumer that Novel Foods provides?

Q. 8 Are you aware that 16 lab reports were chosen by the Centre of Toxicity (CoT) to help formulate the requirements for CBD Novel Foods?

(25) 39.68% yes

(38) 60.32% no

Please note, the next few questions all relate to an influence on the Hemp and CBD world that has been awarded by government agencies.

Q. 9 Are you aware that the World Health Organisation (WHO) determined up to 2,400mg of CBD per day would not lead to adverse reactions in humans?

(48) 76.19% yes

(15) 23.81% no

You'd think the WHO used more than 16 lab reports, right?

Q. 10 Did you know that the CoT dismissed WHO data in favour of those 16 lab reports, from one company, to determine that humans could suffer an adverse reactions if they exceeded 70mg of CBD a day, which is less than 3% of which the WHO says is safe?

(27) 42.86% yes

(36) 57.14% no

So 16 lab reports, from one company, to govern the requirements of 1000's of companies in a rival industry...

That in itself needs to be questioned as much as why the CoT believe that the WHO data wasn't fit for purpose.

Dear FSA, can you please explain why; A: There is no data from a competitor of GW/Jazz Pharmaceuticals used to draft the toxicology requirements for Novel Foods applications?
B: Do you think it's appropriate that a company such as GW/Jazz with their 147 patents based around cannabinoid medicines has such a hand in the running of the CBD food supplemental industry, and do you think that allowing that level of influence might actually create an anti-competitive environment?

Q. 11 Did you know that those 16 lab reports came from GW/Jazz Pharmaceuticals, who is a direct competitor to the hemp & CBD industry?

(32) 50.79% yes

(31) 49.21% no

Oops... spoiler alert!!! 😅 Either way, it's not right, in fact I've yet to come across someone who can provide a good reason as to why one company is getting the chance to domineer a rival industry as whole.

Q. 12 Did you know that GW/Jazz Pharmaceutical has patents for CBD products that stretch back to 2004?

(38) 60.32% yes

(25) 39.68% no

That's a lot of people that know, but also a lot that don't. Here's the link if you want to have a look.

Q. 13 Did you know that GW/Jazz Pharmaceuticals has over 145 patents, with many including combinations of controlled cannabinoids, including THC Delta 9?

(28) 44.44% yes

(35) 55.56% no

Turns out they have 147 now, as the link above will show you.

Dear FSA, GW/Jazz Pharmaceuticals have an extensive list of preparations that contain CBD and controlled cannabinoids. With that in mind, and considering that there are updates on controlled cannabinoid levels in supplemental products to come from the Home Office, could it be further argued that GW/Jazz Pharmaceuticals shouldn't have any influence on the supplemental industry whatsoever?

Q. 14 Did you know that GW/Jazz Pharmaceuticals recently admitted in open source documents that they have a 20+ year strong working relationship with the Home Office (HO), who themselves are due to announce restrictions on controlled cannabinoids?

(26) 41.27% yes

(37) 58.73% no

You can find that statement here.

Q. 15 Despite where Novel Foods is now, GW/Jazz Pharmaceuticals recently stated that the CBD industry needs more 'political direction'. Do you agree with GW/Jazz Pharmaceuticals?

(7) 11.11% yes

(56) 88.89% no

Dear FSA, this link, which is identical to the one above in Q.14 shows that GW/Jazz Pharmaceuticals has a questionable level of influence within government agencies and political arenas. Is it time to investigate the involvement of GW/Jazz Pharmaceuticals involvement and/or influence over Novel Foods?

Q. 16 The following is a quote from GW/Jazz Pharmaceuticals: "In opening the door for consumer market CBD products, FDA risks further diminishing the likelihood that more cannabis-derived product will be developed into proven medicines".

Do you feel that considering the direction of Novel Foods, a similar conversation may have been had between GW/Jazz Pharmaceuticals and FSA?

(41) 65.08% yes

(4) 6.34% no

(18) 28.57% not sure

The link for that is here,

Q. 17 The 16 lab reports from GW/Jazz Pharmaceuticals focus on isolated CBD, do you think it's appropriate to evaluate wholeplant products on the basis of these reports?

(6) 9.52% yes

(55) 87.30% no

(2) 3.17% not sure

Dear FSA, this is another elephant in the room that isn't being addressed in Novel Foods. The process to create CBD isolate is far more aggressive than that of creating a CO2 or Alcohol extracted full or broad spectrum product. Can I ask why there is no difference in requirements to reflect that within the Novel Foods framework?

Q. 18 Do you think that the 16 lab reports reflects a level of influence on the CBD industry that GW/Jazz Pharmaceuticals should not have?

(53) 84.12% yes

(7) 11.11% no

(3) 4.76 not sure

Good news, that's the last one that focuses on GW/Jazz Pharmaceuticals specifically, and I've already fired some questions to the FSA questioning that influence, so lets move on.

Q. 19 The FSA announced at the 2020 Hemp & CBD Expo that products on sale before 13/02/2020 would be invited to submit Novel Foods applications by 31/03/2021 to be able to remain on shelves after that date. Did you know that they instructed Trading Standards across the UK to create a catalogue of products before 13/02/2020?

(19) 30.16% yes

(44) 69.84% no

I'm surprised that only 30% remember this, but I was at that expo, and I remember it well.

Dear FSA, on 29/02/2020, an FSA representative told the Hemp & CBD Expo that Trading Standards was making a list of companies who had products on the market before 13/02/2020. Since that time, some companies have been validated despite not having products on sale before the set deadline whilst the wider list who're all 'awaiting evidence' have been told to prove that they were on the shelves at the right time. Can the FSA confirm whether this list exists, and if it does, why it is not being used by the FSA right now?

Q. 20 Are you aware that any company with products created after 13/02/2020 would have to go through the Novel Foods process as written, meaning that a company would not be able to sell their products until they have been fully authorised by the FSA?

(52) 82.54% yes

(11) 17.46% no

82.54%... that's not great for the FSA, even if I had found the only 54 companies that are aware.

Q. 21 Are you aware that there are some validated companies on the FSA public list that did not have any products before 13/02/2020?

(46) 73.02% yes

(17) 26.98% no

Again, a big number.

The 2 companies I've identified are Pureis and Brains Botanicals. Both have been identified to the FSA and Paul Tossall, and evidence has been provided to verify that to be the case. Strangely, Paul Tossall has rejected that evidence not just from me, but also from another company who I'm aware made a complaint. I don't think we're the only two people to complain, either!

Q. 22 Did you know that some of those validated companies didn't have products on sale until 2021, and one company is still to launch their Novel approved (validated) range?

(37) 58.73% yes

(26) 41.27% no

Again this relates to Pureis and Brains Bioceuticals.

Q. 23 Are you aware that the FSA have released a call for information from companies to prove they had products on sale before 13/02/2020, despite instructing Trading Standards to create a catalogue that they have access to?

(29) 46.03% yes

(34) 53.97% no

We've covered this already above.

Q. 24 Are you aware of any complaints made to the FSA in regards to validated companies?

(28) 44.44% yes

(35) 55.56% no

Dear FSA, during the creation of this poll, I became aware that more than just myself have made complaints to the FSA in regards to Novel Foods. One that has specifically caught my eye is in regards to validated companies who did not have products on sale before 13/02/2020. Can I please ask, how many complaints in total have been lodged in regards to CBD Novel Foods since 31/03/2021, and how many of them specifically provided proof to show that certain validated companies did not have products on sale before 13/02/2020?

Q. 25 One validated company, who didn't have products available before 13/02/2020, manufacturers synthetic CBD. Did you know that whilst it was deemed important to do a safety assessment on plant derived cannabinoids, the FSA have stated that there's no such requirements for synthetic cannabinoids?

(31) 49.21% yes

(32) 50.79% no

This is shocking...

Dear FSA, here is a short conversation between myself and Paul Tossall, where he states that a safety assessment was required for plant derived cannabinoids, but no such assessment would be required for synthetic cannabinoids. Considering that many synthetic cannabinoids come from mixing sugar, yeast, and reprogrammed streptococcus, and then requires rinsing with hot water and thiocyanide, can you tell me when appropriate safety assessments 'will' be starting on synthetic cannabinoid extracts, especially if Novel Foods is all about consumer safety and clear product labelling?

Q. 26 The company in question has effectively been given a golden pass: They had no products on sale before 13/02/2020, they had no products on sale until after validation, and there seems to be no need to verify the safety of their products to a level that is reflective of the science used to create synthetic cannabinoids. Do you think that this is appropriate?

(2) 3.17% yes

(60) 95.24% no

(1) 1.58% not sure

This is about Pureis, who were supposed to supply David Beckham's brand and who's co-owner basically labelled the CBD industry as a bunch of pirates, and said the FSA were doing their best to sort out an unregulated industry... #yawn

Paul Tossall has been contacted at least twice in regards to this company, once by me (twice actually), and once by another company who I won't name. Both times included evidence that Paul Tossall has refused to accept.

Q. 27 This question has been asked before earlier in this questionnaire, but considering the questions asked since then, we would like to ask it again. Do you think that Novel Foods IS about consumer safety and education?

(1) 1.58% yes

(59) 93.65% no

(3) 4.76% not sure

The first time I asked this, the results were: 9.52% (6) for yes, 79.37% (50) for no, and 11.11% (7) for not certain.

On that switch alone, I feel like I have provided a bit of education on where things actually are in the industry as a result of creating this poll.

There's no time to beam with prime for opening people eyes though, there's more craziness to discuss!

Q.28 Do you think that GW/Jazz Pharmaceuticals influence of the Hemp and CBD industry is anti-competitive?

(61) 96.82% yes

(1) 1.58% no

(1) 1.58% not sure

This and the next questions are more 'recap' questions if you will, and also aided me in determining whether entries were genuine or not.

Q. 29 Do you think it's right that the FSA allows synthetic CBD products to be validated and sold without any appropriate safety assessments?

(3) 4.76% yes

(59) 93.65% no

(1) 1.58% not sure

Forgive me, but if I had cast my vote, it would be another NO!

Q.30 How confident are you that the FSA have fairly applied CBD Novel Food guidelines to all companies?

(0) 0.00% very confident

(0) 0.00% fairly confident

(11) 17.46% not very confident

(51) 80.95% no confidence

(1) 1.58% not sure

This and the next 2 questions really do paint a bleak picture, please read through.

Q.31 How confident are you with the FSA's handling of CBD Novel Foods up until this point?

(0) 0.00% very confident

(1) 1.58% fairly confident

(11) 17.46% not very confident

(50) 79.37% no confidence

(1) 1.58% not sure

Q.32 How confident are you that the FSA will complete the Novel Foods process, and establish a marketplace that is competitive and fair for both the consumer, and established industry?

(0) 0.00% very confident

(0) 0.00% fairly confident

(11) 17.46% not very confident

(51) 80.95% no confidence

(1) 1.58% not sure

Dear FSA, these no-confidence levels for the fairness, running until now, and in if the FSA can deliver Novel Foods fairly for all is approximately 80%. I'm pretty certain that this is a fair reflection of the industry as a whole, so may I ask if it's appropriate for the whole industry to have a chance to have their say on Novel Foods outside of this poll, say a 'how are we doing' questionnaire send directly from the FSA to all stakeholders and registered interests within CBD Novel Foods?

Q. 33 How hostile would you say the Hemp and CBD industry is now as a trading environment?

(27) 42.86% very hostile

(27) 42.86% quite hostile

(4) 6.34% not very hostile

(1) 1.58% the industry is calm

(4) 6.34% not sure

The questions from here focus on how well the FSA communicates with this industry as a whole, as well as how they interact with a certain association who seems to have the 'inside line'.

This specific question is in fact one reason why I had to set up an anonymous poll, because some companies really are sitting uncomfortably whilst seeing industry antagonists picking and choosing who they target, and when...

Q. 34 There are a few entities, organisations and associations within the UK Hemp and CBD industry, do you think that the FSA communicates effectively and fairly with them all as a whole?

(0) 0.00% yes

(53) 84.12% no

(10) 15.88% not sure

They SHOULD do, but no they don't. 84% though... that's shocking!

Q. 35 Are you aware of The Association for Cannabinoid Industries (ACI), who were launched by The Centre of Medicinal Cannabis (CMC), has a lobbying arm called First November Group as well as interests called Cannabinoid Insight, UKCBDlist, connections to Volteface, reported connections to GW/Jazz Pharmaceuticals, and alleged contacts with both Labour and The Conservative party?

(25) 39.68% yes

(36) 57.14% no

(2) 3.17% not sure

57.14% said no, but 84.14% said in Q. 34 that they don't think the FSA is effectively and fairly communicating with the industry as a whole. Is it me, or does that paint a more damning picture of how the FSA have run things?

Q. 36 Are you aware that the ACI and GW/Jazz Pharmaceutical are the only bodies that are calling for restrictions to controlled cannabinoids and further guidance on analytical testing requirements?

(31) 49.21% yes

(32) 50.79% no

There's a few links now between the ACI/CMC and GW/Jazz, here's my favourite from the publication called Conservative Home, with Steve Moore half delivering the narrative himself. You can find more information in an article I wrote called "who the hell do you think you are", which is available here.

Q. 37 Are you aware that the ACI created a fake list of companies with rejected Novel Foods applications, and published it in The Grocer?

(20) 31.75% yes

(43) 68.25% no

Yes... very naughty!!!

Q. 38 Are you aware that UKCBDlist, which was created by ACI, was released as a portal for companies to inform TS, through the ACI, of companies who're not listed on the incomplete FSA public list?

(18) 28.57% yes

(45) 71.42% no

Please see above.

Q. 39 Did you know that ACI have reported at least one company for not being on the FSA public list, despite them actually being listed?

(24) 38.10% yes

(39) 61.90% no

... in what can only be described as despicable behaviour, but in case you missed it, here a link to an article in which I cover this topic more thoroughly.

Q. 40 Did you know that the FSA have not rebuked the ACI for their actions?

(14) 22.22% yes

(49) 77.78% no

One wonders why that would be the case...

Q. 41 Some in the hemp and CBD industry have suggested that there is some sort of a relationship between FSA and ACI, would you agree that there is a possibility of this?

(34) 53.97% strongly agree

(23) 36.51% agree

(0) 0.00% disagree

(0) 0.00% strongly disagree

(6) 9.52% not sure

As someone who has been in this industry since 2016, started working for a trade association in 2018, saw the CMC before that and witnessed their antics as well as that of the ACI's from their inception in 2019, I'm surprise that there's 9.52% that aren't sure whether there's a relation between the FSA and ACI, but I'm not surprised that no-one disagrees with this question.

Q. 42 Considering that the FSA is supposed to communicate with the industry as a whole, if a relationship of sorts was there between them and ACI, would you deem that as inappropriate?

(50) 79.37% yes

(12) 19.05% no

(1) 1.58% not sure

Dear FSA, can you confirm whether or not you as an authority over the food and drink sector should have any sort of visible relationship with a trade association, and if you can, would it be appropriate if that was with an association who seems to have no publicly available accounts to verify their existence or function as such.

Q. 43 Consider the questions that have been asked so far, that of: disregarding wholeplant products, 16 labs reports from a competitor to the hemp and CBD industry, the lack of safety assessments for synthetic cannabinoids, updates on controlled cannabinoid levels, and potential relationships with associations who if anything have misrepresented the industry as a whole.

Do you think there needs to be an investigation into the handling of Novel Foods by the FSA?

(59) 93.63% yes

(0) 0.00% no

(4) 6.37% not sure

I think that's a fair assessment of the industry right now...

Q.44 In 2017 the Home Office (HO) approached the FSA to request that all cannabinoids be classified as Novel Foods, the FSA accepted the HO request for isolated extracts, but not for wholeplant extracts. Do you think that this is more appropriate than the format of Novel Foods the industry has been directed through right now?

(32) 50.79% yes

(10) 15.87% no

(21) 33.33% not sure

This question is very important, because the FSA would have you believe that Novel Foods for CBD products hasn't happened before, but I know that this isn't the case.

In fact the ex-head of Novel Foods Ruth Willis will tell you that, she was the one approached by the HO in 2017.

Q.45 Do you think that Novel Foods should be scrapped for full and broad spectrum products that are reflective of the biomass used to create them?

(56) 88.89% yes

(2) 3.17% no

(5) 7.94% not sure

I think rightly so, and I think the FSA need to listen to that opinion. Full and Broad spectrum products are more akin to the food cannabis has always been, and far away from the pharmaceutical direction those products are being compared to.

Q. 46 Do you think that plant derived, isolated cannabinoid products have been sold long enough in the UK to not warrant being part of the Novel Food process?

(51) 80.95% yes

(7) 11.11% no

(5) 7.94% not sure

This is where I have to be honest and open, personally I'm in between 'no' and 'not sure', but the question had to be asked to ensure the poll reflected an industry opinion, and not so much my own.

Q.47 Would it be fair to say that the most Novel CBD products are in fact 'ultra pure' synthetic cannabinoid products, and that they should have appropriate safety assessments specific to them?

(52) 82.54% yes

(4) 6.37% no

(7) 11.11% not sure

This is though, without a doubt, my opinion. Synthetic CBD is made with pharmaceutical wizardry, it has no place in the food supplemental industry, but if it has, it certainly needs to go through a far more rigorous safety assessment than that which plant derived cannabinoids were assessed.

Q. 48 The head of Novel Foods, Paul Tossall, was placed in his job just before the EFSA announced Novel Foods in 2019, two years after the HO originally approached the FSA to ask that all cannabinoids were defined as Novel. Consider all the questions that have been asked in this questionnaire, and out of ten, how would you rate Paul Tossall's performance over the last 3 years?

10 - (0) 0.00%

9 - (0) 0.00%

8 - (0) 0.00%

7 - (0) 0.00%

6 - (2) 3.17%

5 - (8) 12.7%

4 - (2) 3.17%

3 - (4) 6.35%

2 - (10) 15.87%

1 - (4) 6.35%

0 - (33) 52.38%

96 out of 630, 15.23% confidence rating

So there you have it, and what a way to finish a poll.

I kind of feel a little for Paul Tossall, who'll no doubt be reading this very soon.

Nevertheless, Novel Foods has been an embarrassment of a process, in that every point above is easily verifiable due to the information being within the public domain, and whilst some will laugh at the comedy that is, most will be very upset and asking how blinkered the FSA actually is when the vast majority of the industry knows there is something seriously wrong with Novel Foods, as well as those who are running it.

On that basis, I believe that Novel Foods needs to be scrapped at the very least for full and broad spectrum products, Paul Tossall's position seems untenable, synthetic CBD products need to be appropriately labelled and tested, and the FSA needs to be investigated into their handling of Novel Foods on the basis that they have allowed companies to lie to them in regards to when they had products available, and yet the FSA are refusing evidence from others to show this to be to the contrary.

Oh yeah, GW need to stay in their industry, and the ACI needs to be brought in line with all other trade associations, organisations and stakeholders who the FSA really should be communicating equally with.

Dear FSA,
To avoid a really long article, I chose not to ask a question on every point, however I would request that you provide feedback on this poll in its entirety.
Kind regards
The Hemp Hound Agency


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