Navigating the Maze: UK Law and CBD Food Supplements


In recent years, the popularity of CBD (cannabidiol) has skyrocketed, with many people turning to CBD products for their potential health and wellness benefits. However, the regulatory landscape surrounding CBD in the UK can be described as nothing less than complex and ever-evolving. As a cannabinoid testing lab, we understand the importance of clarity and compliance in the CBD industry. In this article, we’ll delve into the current state of UK law relating to CBD food supplements, including the critical aspect of compliance with the three limbs of exempt products under the Misuse of Drugs Act.

CBD and the Novel Food Status

One of the key factors influencing the regulation of CBD in the UK is its classification as a “novel food.” Novel foods are those that were not widely consumed in the European Union before May 15, 1997. In January 2019, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) declared that CBD products are indeed novel foods, subjecting them to a stringent approval process.

As a result, CBD food supplements and other CBD-containing products must gain novel food authorization before they can be legally marketed and sold to consumers. This application process involves providing comprehensive safety data and scientific evidence to demonstrate the safety of CBD as an ingredient in food products.

The FSA’s Approach to CBD Regulation

In the UK, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) is the primary regulatory body responsible for overseeing the safety and legality of CBD food supplements. The FSA has adopted a pragmatic approach to CBD regulation while ensuring consumer safety. Here are some key points regarding the FSA’s stance on CBD:

1. Validation Period: In 2020, the FSA set a deadline for businesses to submit valid novel food applications for their CBD products. Until this validation period ended in March 2021, businesses were allowed to continue selling their existing CBD products, provided they were not marketed as medicinal.

2. Safety and Labelling: The FSA emphasizes the importance of ensuring that CBD products are safe for consumption. This includes proper labelling and clear dosing instructions. Businesses are expected to provide accurate information to consumers about CBD content and daily dose limits.

3. Enforcement: The FSA has the authority to remove CBD products from the market that do not comply with the novel food regulations or pose a risk to public health. To date, several products have been removed from sale due to non-compliance.

The Three Limbs of Exempt Products

In addition to the novel food regulations, CBD products in the UK must also adhere to the three limbs of exempt products outlined in the Misuse of Drugs Act. These regulations state that a CBD product cannot contain more than 1mg of combined controlled substances, such as THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), per container. This threshold is in place to prevent the misuse of controlled substances and to ensure that CBD products do not have psychoactive effects.

The Road Ahead for CBD in the UK

The CBD industry in the UK is still evolving, and regulatory changes are likely to continue. Businesses operating in this space should remain vigilant, stay informed about regulatory updates, and prioritize compliance with novel food regulations and the Misuse of Drugs Act to ensure the safety and legality of their products.

Consumers, too, should be discerning when choosing CBD products. Look for products that are transparent about their CBD content, testing procedures, and compliance with both novel food and Misuse of Drugs Act regulations. Third-party lab testing, like the services offered by our lab, can provide assurance of product quality and cannabinoid content.


Navigating the legal landscape of CBD food supplements in the UK requires careful attention to the evolving regulations, including compliance with the three limbs of exempt products under the Misuse of Drugs Act. The classification of CBD as a novel food underscores the need for rigorous testing, safety assessment, and compliance with labelling requirements.

As a cannabinoid testing lab, we are committed to providing accurate and reliable testing services to help businesses meet regulatory standards and ensure the quality and safety of CBD products. By working together with regulators, producers, and consumers, we can contribute to a transparent and responsible CBD industry that prioritizes safety and consumer well-being.

In the dynamic world of CBD regulation, staying informed and adhering to the latest guidelines is essential for the continued growth and success of the industry while safeguarding public health and consumer trust.