Novel Foods - Pre-planned to fail?
An opinion piece from Cefyn Jones, founder of The Hemp Hound Agency
What a mess this whole Novel Foods process has become - The ACI are saying there could be legal challenges, the FSA admitting 'clerical errors', lists, misrepresented companies, and a spot of mud slinging on social and professional platforms to boot...
Now I'm all for a bit of entertainment, but only as long as I have popcorn to hand! When it comes to Novel Foods though, I fear that there's just not enough kernels on this planet to cover me for however many boxsets this craziness will extend over.
So let's not beat around the bush, and let's delve a little into these sub-topics a little further.
What have they done now?
Funnily enough, I've been asking that question since they appeared on the scene, but that's by the by.
There's a lot of people who think that the ACI are in some way 'in cahoots' with the FSA, my opinion differs somewhat on this, which may become evident from here.
What is 'the point' of the ACI? Seriously, it's not supposed to be a rude question. First they went against an industry agreement with the MHRA of a 200mg RDA for CBD by telling everyone 280mg was ok, then they embraced the FSA 70mg a day, with both moves being disruptive to the wider industry.
Then there was the email campaigns, which pretty much said "join us or die". I dealt with many of them in my time, it's a shame they haven't stopped though 😐
But all of that is small fry in comparison to their association with a list of companies which was recently published in The Grocer, allegedly showing those who have had their Novel Foods applications rejected.
Lets be honest, we all know that this list didn't come from the FSA, so 'who' made it? The Grocer? If not them, who's left in that equation?
I've got 2 companies that I work with who were named on that list, one was added to the FSA list barely three weeks after The Grocers list was published, the other is a Novel Exempt company who didn't have to submit an application. Both are in a position of detriment due to the 'list', and are now seeking legal advice.
According to what I'm seeing on LinkedIn, they might not be the only ones either!
Whether or not they created the list for The Grocer, the ACI certainly seems to have had it before its publication. They contacted the Novel Exempt company merely days before the list was updated to tell them that their application had been rejected, which definitely suggests either incorrect insider information, OR... I'll let you finish that sentence.
Here's the thing though, why promote that list? Surely whoever made it would have considered the potential of legal action if it was wrong?
My personal thoughts on this are that something doesn't smell right, to the point that I can't tell if it's a genuine mistake OR a deliberate one. Either way, I sense some court room drama coming soon... my apologies if you struggle to find some popcorn.
If you are a company who has been affected by the list in The Grocer, please do get in contact, and I will direct you to appropriate legal advise.
What have they done now?
Pretty much upset everyone!
Ok, that's not entirely true, some people are just happy to be on that Novel Foods list and don't care about the 'awaiting evidence' tag next to their company name.
That being said, companies are being asked to prove that they had products on sale before 13/02/2020. This is despite the FSA stating on 29/02/2020 that Trading Standards (TS) had gone to stockists up and down the UK to create a file of products, that were on the market at that time. You know there are validated companies listed who definitely did not have a product on UK shelves before the 13/02 deadline that the FSA insisted on, right?
Then there's my 'favourite' absurdity, a company validated for synthetic cannabinoid products on the basis of requirements drawn up from lab reports for plant derived cannabinoids...
Say what, now?
Lets go back to 'awaiting evidence', does anyone remember when the Cannabis Trades Association asked the FSA for an extension to the Novel Foods application submission deadline because of the impact of Covid lockdowns on businesses? If you do, you'll remember that the FSA refused as they saw no negative impact on companies who were working towards completing their applications during that time...
Please DO look at the 99.9% of companies who are listed as 'awaiting evidence', and do tell who gave you the impression that Lockdowns didn't affect applications?
Yours sincerely, The Hemp Hound Agency.
So far, it looks like there could be 5 sources of that information, which I used to think may have included the ACI, but with all their members also 'awaiting evidence', I'm not too certain now.
So then we have 'clerical errors', and articles in regards to possible legal action against the FSA. That is insane, in that the previous sentence explains exactly what a few industry insiders, including myself, believed would happen as a result of Novel Foods.
craziness and court cases
There is a concern I have with this though, the storm on the horizon looks 'too perfect', if you know what I mean. If you don't, well it's been suggested over time that the only way that Novel Foods will end will be with legal action which leads to a judicial review, which will place the HO in a position where they would have to do a master study for the safety of CBD products.
On face value, that could work, but when you consider that the HO are due to release guidance on controlled cannabinoid levels in CBD products as well as direction on appropriate testing methods for those products, I fear that this is where GW/Jazz Pharma's 20 plus year strong working relationship with the HO will be used to further imprint their influence on cannabis as a whole.
If you've not read any of my articles before, then you might not be aware of GW/Jazz Pharma. Let's just say that 16 of their lab reports were used to determine the requirements for CBD Novel Foods, and some of those reports focused on force-feeding rats a quarter of their body weight of CBD Isolate. Those lab reports were then used to determine that someone should not take more than 70mg of CBD a day (RDA), which is against the wider evidence the World Health Organisation (WHO) used to determine that 2,400mg a day was safe.
Oh, I almost forgot, they also have 48 patents going back to 2004 for CBD based preparations, and 26 for THC based preparations. The rest of their 146 patents are focused around delivery methods AND other preparations which include controlled cannabinoids.
On that basis, I believe that the CBD industry is in a very precarious place right now, and any collapse of Novel Foods might not lead to the rosy outcome most would hope for.
A few people...
What have they done now?
This is a vague term really, so I should clarify where I'm coming from. Mud Slinging on an industrial scale is something to behold, glorious in fact!
It's May the 4th, but glory comes to the Star Trek Head!
This isn't in "Yo mama!" territory, I would always advise against any such moves, but most of what I've seen to a point could be deemed as justified in some way. The FSA have been called out by some, because they don't seem to want to answer the questions that are being put to them. Others... well if you're going to create or endorse lists that misrepresent companies to their detriment, you deserve anything that comes off the back of your actions!
I'm not a fan of shoutiness, but there is a time and place for everything. I would ask though that if you are getting vocal, make sure you cc the FSA, ACI and HO in, because most of this mess is of their making!
So what's to come?
We've got to be mindful of the endgame, how is this industry going to get to that all elusive, and as yet undefined point B?
It's interesting that GW/Jazz have submitted a report to the upcoming Home Affairs Committee's enquiry on Recreational Drugs, which stated that there needs to be more political direction on the UK CBD industry, and that there's the potential for major disruption with Novel Foods at the same time. I also find it interesting that GW/Jazz are happy with the ACMD's 50 microgram recommended RDA for THC, what with their THC based patented preparations and all...
I'm going to lay a vague timeline here, and I would invite you to comment if you think I'm wrong, or if you see something else I haven't quite noticed yet.
Soon there maybe a need for the HO to conduct a master study on the safety of CBD products.
This will more than likely come as a result of an application for Judicial Review, submitted by one or more companies who are not happy with the status of their Novel Foods application.
This master study will be influenced by GW/Jazz, who have already indicated that they believe CBD markets need more political direction.
In the same statement, they label controlled cannabinoids as dangerous, and state that they have had a 20+ year working relationship with the HO.
Controlled cannabinoids will be clamped down on, this combined with preferred testing requirements has the potential to make a lot of food products become 'drugs' overnight, which will effect several Novel Foods Applications.
All of this will happen before any company who is 'awaiting evidence' gets a sniff of validation, to do anything other than this would invite further unnecessary legal action.
Depending on who you are is how you'll see the above, some will think that any move I've suggested will be a benefit to their business interest, but I believe that they will be in the minority. As it's May the 4th, I will allow my use of Gif's to do the talking for me.
Have your Star Wars Gif!!!
If you've read this far, thank you for your effort! I really appreciate it, but there is one thing I have to ask you. There's only one way I can see to raise the issue of political control, and ensure that if there is a master study for CBD performed by the HO, it's not influenced by a company who should stick to it's own market and stop interfering in other industries. I really do think that this FSA/ACI court stuff is a trap, but it can be sprung IF we work together, and ask for a second opinion in regards to influence being levied on cannabis as a whole by GW/Jazz Pharma.
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