CBD certification scheme to launch in the UK

14 April 2020

The Association for the Cannabinoid Industry (ACI) has created a Certification Scheme to assist businesses with becoming compliant with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) regulations coming into force on 31st of March 2021.


 Click here to read our "Importing CBD products" flowchart >

The FSA deadline

The FSA announced that it will require businesses in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to submit and have a fully validated novel foods authorisation for CBD food products and supplements before the 31st of March 2021. Businesses are also required to provide the FSA with more information about the contents of their products before this date. If a business fails to comply with the regulations, their products will not be allowed to remain on the market.

The Chief Executive of the FSA, Emily Mills, explains that this new approach is ‘a pragmatic and proportionate step in balancing the protection of public health with consumer choice. It’s now up to industry to supply this information so that the public can be reassured that CBD is safe and what it says it is.'

The move towards better regulation of CBD products will assist to instil public confidence by ensuring that the content of these products are safe before they reach consumers.

What is the ACI?

The ACI is a body that supports the sustainable future of CBD products in the UK through regulation to ensure high standards of product quality, consumer satisfaction and environmental stewardship. These objectives are reinforced by the ACI’s Quality Charter that members are required to follow.

The ACI Certification has three tiers that represent the necessary steps required to obtain novel food authorisation.

The tiers are as follows:

  • Tier 1 – Certified. An ACI member demonstrates that it complies with the ACI’s 7 pillar Quality Charter through an audit to verify they have a quality management system in place.
  • Tier 2 – Validated.  A business must have its novel foods application validated by the FSA. The ACI will support its members with submitting the correct scientific dossiers to obtain validation.
  • Tier 3 – Authorised. The ACI Certification will be granted when a business has an authorised novel foods application from the FSA. This process is also subjected to an annual review.

The ACI has also established a Regulatory and Compliance Unit to support its members with both the certification process and the novel food dossiers.

Evidently, there will be cost implications for businesses. There is also a very obvious question as to who should make the application; individual business owners who sell CBD products, wholesalers and/or distributors?

In short, there is still some clarification required on this, but the workings of the ACI’s scheme would suggest that the application and related costs burden should largely fall to big wholesalers; this is because they will provide the active CBD ingredient. Nonetheless, this does not exonerate small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) which are producing their own CBD brands.

Any company selling CBD products to a consumer will need to ensure they carry out the appropriate level of due diligence checks, as any intervention by the authorities will ultimately affect them directly.

Importation of CBD

A business wanting to import CBD products into the UK will have to put certain arrangements in place to ensure those goods lawfully clear customs at the UK border. The process will differ greatly in length depending on whether the goods are being imported from inside or outside the EU. With that in mind, please see the attached flowchart which may assist you with regards to the importation of CBD to the UK.

As can be seen, the legal framework of selling CBD products can be complicated for businesses to navigate; we advise businesses in this area, and can assist should you need advice to safeguard your CBD business.

This blog was co-written by Shannett Thompson and Eguono Ogueh

About the authors

Shannett Thompson is a Senior Associate in the Regulatory team. Shannett has a  keen interest in healthcare with her experience extending to the regulation of cannabis based medicinal products and the CBD market.

Eguono Ogueh is a Paralegal in the Regulatory Team. She assists fee earners with defending clients in disciplinary proceedings in the healthcare, legal and financial sectors.

Share insightLinkedIn Twitter Facebook Email to a friend Print

Email this page to a friend

We welcome views and opinions about the issues raised in this blog. Should you require specific advice in relation to personal circumstances, please use the form on the contact page.

Leave a comment

You may also be interested in:

Skip to content Home About Us Insights Services Contact Accessibility