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Public Interest Disclosure complaint Update (21/07/23)

From The Hemp Hound Agency

On the scent of the cannabis industry

On 12/05/23 the Food Standards Agency (FSA) responded to a complaint that was lodged on 15/07/22 in regards to their handling of Novel Foods for CBD products.

The initial complaint can be found below:

Public Interest Disclosure, CJ to the FSA
Download PDF • 8.65MB

The FSA responded to eight points

  • Changes in rules

This was as much to do with communication as it was to do with rule changes, which is evident in their response.

The definition of new to market product is specified in this document, albeit not actually addressed in this point. I believe that it's the first time that it has been defined, and that BEIS recommendations were going to be embraced if the UK as to proceed to unpick itself from EU regulations.

Something else that was supposed to be in this section was to do with synthetic CBD, The FSA validated products of that nature before an act of parliament legitimised them, but the FSA stayed silent on the matter.

What they did answer to is comical, it seems they told the entire industry in March 2021 that there was an extension allowed for products with submitted applications to join other applications that had more likelihood of progressing through the process.

The problem there is that they didn't tell 'the industry', they told the trade associations, and not everyone is a member of them. The CTA for example claim to represent about 70% of the companies in the UK, whether that's true or not, there's still 30% there who may not have been told anything.

Is that missing percentage covered by EIHA or the ACI, who have the largest applications? I would say no. Does telling trade associations something mean that an industry has been informed? No! So the FSA in this part of their response hasn't even answered half a question, but what they have answered to comes with a joke of a reply.

The issue is simple, the FSA have not addressed this issue appropriately.

  • Products validated that did not exist on or before 13/02/20

As mentioned the FSA have only just stated what guidance they have been following in regards to 'new to market product', and unfortunately, that clarification doesn't help any of the products that have been highlighted in this part of the complaint.

Despite this the FSA have chosen to state that all highlighted products are part of a credible application, but then that's allegedly on the basis of application requirements which states you have to prove your products were available on 13/02/20. Seen as I've submitted evidence to show that this isn't the case, the FSA are blatantly protecting companies at the expense of others.

Look at it this way, several companies had their products validated before they were available in the UK. Brains Bioceuticals is the case and point of that as they stated in 2022 AFTER their products had been validated that they would be available in the UK in the spring of that year. If they're allowed to stay on a public list that states all products were available to the consumer on or before 13/02/20, maybe they should reinstate those removed products from the public list for JM-Wholesale... fair's fair after all.

  • Response to actionable evidence

I'm not the only person who has made complaints, by all accounts there were 7 others submitted, and most of the products highlighted in them were the same that I highlighted.

The issue here was that I had to submit evidence twice, but both times my evidence was effectively ignored and I wasn't directed to an appropriate complaints procedure. Sound a bit sussed? Yep, me too.

We'll continue on this topic further down in the section called 'actions by a named FSA manager'.

  • Validated products that breach MoDR (1mg rule)

In 2020 the FSA stated that the 1mg rule (MoDR '01 Reg 2 Limb C) doesn't apply to food products, but at the same time the Home Office have maintained that the 1mg rule applies, even though they told the CTA in January 2021 that it's not fit for purpose... but it didn't stop them from closing down Jersey Hemp on the basis of that.

So the FSA have now introduced a 1mg threshold, but they're more than happy to leave the products highlighted on the list whilst they focus on other products, and those products are being adjudicated on the basis of an undeclared contract with Fera Labs, to test 100 predetermined products. Strangely though, the contract with Fera was to test products on the basis of BEIS guidance and ACMD advice, so why enforce a 1mg threshold, and why not start that enforcement with the products they have already validated... or are they being protected?

  • Monopolies Market

I don't have to go too in depth here as I already have in the document below.

Unveiling the Influence GW Pharmaceuticals and the Concerning Dynamics of CBD Regulation i
Download • 597KB

There were a few points in this part of the complaint, but the FSA decided it was all about conflicts of interest between GW Pharmaceuticals and Reading University, which they dismissed. They did that by drafting evidence into the complaint without asking me, even though when I tried to provide evidence in my complaint, it was refused... So fair is fair, and I put together a 32 page document that shows just how close they are with the FSA, and other regulatory groups such as the CoT, ACMD, ACNFP and the EU working group on Novel Foods.

Basically, the FSA know very well that there were undeclared conflicts, and as they tried to do when Panorama investigated the CoT, they claimed that they saw nothing... so basically, they're corrupt.

  • Food Crimes

You know that compromising the authenticity of a food is a food crime, right?

So consider this, the FSA say that synthetic CBD is exactly the same as plant derived CBD isolate. Interestingly they made that distinction before an Act of Parliament allowed synthetic CBD to be sold in the UK, and even had products of that nature validated before that point.

Then there's the case of using an Article 4 from CBD isolate in MCT to define all CBD products: full spectrum, broad, narrow... they're all the same as isolate, but then you and I know that's not the case, and by definition that's diminishing, or compromising, the authenticity of those products.

Strangely the FSA doesn't see it that way, nor the issue with the public list, which they maintain, allowing synthetic and plant derived CBD to be defined as 'Ultra Pure', which I believe is a food crime, and confusing to the public.

  • Contributions by a named manager at the FSA

By not accepting the evidence I submitted twice, and not directing me to an appropriate complaints procedure, I believe the head of novel foods Paul Tossall breached the Civil Servants Code. But then the dismissive nature of the FSA's response to this complaint makes me think that it's not the only time the code has been broken, which is why my next step is to send this complaint and accompanying documents to the Parliamentary and Healthcare Ombudsman as well as the Civil Service Commission.

The response states that Mr Tossall's communications were factual, impartial, respectful, and clear. Yes they were, but they weren't honest, objective, or impartial. How could they be if the evidence I supplied twice was rejected with "Send evidence in, we take lying to the FSA very seriously", and I wasn't directed to a complaints process?

  • ACI webinar - Local Authority Involvement

At the end of the day we all know that the ACI has had some sort of preferential treatment since the start of Novel Foods, and I believe that is because they're funded in part by GW. I'm not going to go too in depth here, all of the details can be found in the complaint response from me to the FSA below.

Response to FSA
Download PDF • 1.78MB

In essence I believe the FSA is being controlled, willingly or otherwise, by political forces and GW. Their response to this complaint is shocking, and disrespectful not just of me but the industry as a whole. Subsequently I feel it's time that the control of the FSA is exposed, and the only way we can do that is by companies and consumers joining forces and telling the FSA that GW's influence should remain within the medical sphere, and stay out of the food supplemental industry.

Before I go...

The FSA have tried to change the dynamic of this complaint, both with their reply and the fact that they're trying to say there was an 'agreement' that this wasn't a public interest disclosure complaint. The reason for the latter is to protect FSA workers in the event of wrongdoing. I don't think so, especially when it comes to the Monopolies Market part of my complaint. If they're complicit in handing the industry over to GW, the public need to know, especially when they seem quite happy to drag companies to the point of extinction just to give GW's shareholders a few extra quid.

3 comentarios

Miembro desconocido
26 jul 2023

This stinks; it's so clearly corrupt.

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Miembro desconocido
21 jul 2023

It's truly a disgrace. I hope someone in the media picks it up. If not here, it might be worth sending it to international media outlets, particularly in countries which have stopped the ridiculous prohibition. Someone somewhere has got to have a big enough jemmy to open this up.

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Miembro desconocido
22 jul 2023
Contestando a

I hope so@midgesfordeux, otherwise I have to ask the question of what am I fighting for.

It's a weird thing this journey, right now I'm seeing more consumers comment on social media than companies, and that's worrying.

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