Food Standards Scotland And Food Standards Agency Update Consumer Advice For CBD

Food Standards Scotland (FSS), alongside the Food Standards Agency (FSA), has today issued new precautionary advice on CBD, recommending healthy adults should limit their consumption of CBD from food to 10mg per day, which is about 4-5 drops of 5% CBD oil.

This change in advice is based on new evidence from the industry and updated advice from our independent scientific committees published today.

We continue to advise that CBD is not taken by people in vulnerable groups, including children, people taking medication (who have not consulted a medical professional), those who are pregnant or breastfeeding and those trying to conceive.

CBD food products do not have a significant history of consumption in the UK or EU prior to the 15th of May 1997 and are therefore considered novel foods, regulated under Regulation (EU) 2015/2283. Novel foods require pre-market safety assessment and authorisation by Ministers before they can be legally placed on the market. The novel food status of CBD extracts was confirmed in January 2019.

No CBD food products have been authorised as novel foods in Scotland or Great Britain (GB), however FSS is aware various CBD food products, including drops, supplements and beverages, are available to consumers and it is appropriate to issue updated advice based on the latest scientific evidence.

The updated advice has been based on the average lifetime exposure to food products containing CBD, such as drinks, oils, sweets, bakery items or drops. Some products available on the market will have a higher dose of CBD per serving than 10mg a day, therefore consumers should check labels and consider their daily intake in light of this updated advice.

Food Standards Scotland Director of Policy and Science, Garry Mournian, said:

“We have always advised the public to think carefully about taking edible CBD products and, as with all foods, we continue to review our advice based on the evidence we gather from industry.

“Our independent advisory committee has reviewed the safety assessments submitted by the industry as part of their novel food applications and we are advising that healthy adults should take no more than 10mg of CBD a day.

“The more CBD you consume over your lifetime, the more likely you are to develop long-term adverse effects, like liver damage or thyroid issues. The level of risk is related to how much you take, in the same way it is with some other potentially harmful products such as alcoholic drinks.

“We encourage consumers to check the CBD content on the product label to monitor their overall daily consumption of CBD and consider if they wish to make changes to how much they take based on this updated advice.

Why we have updated our advice

FSS and the FSA published consumer advice in February 2020 which recommended healthy adults not to take more than 70mg of CBD per day. This level was based on limited evidence where CBD was studied as a medicine, and where the dosage is determined by balancing the benefit of the drug with the potential side-effects.

Since this initial advice, we have asked the CBD industry through the novel foods process to provide data specific to CBD use in food as part of the safety assessment FSS and the FSA are conducting on these products. Our updated advice is based on the review of this evidence by our independent scientific committees.

A Joint subgroup of the Committee on Toxicity (COT) and the Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes (ACNFP), two independent science committees that advise Food Standards Scotland (and the Food Standards Agency), have been reviewing the safety evidence submitted by the CBD industry as part of their novel foods applications. With this new evidence, they have recommended an acceptable daily intake (ADI) of 0.15mg/kg/ per day or 10mg of 98% pure CBD per day for an average weight adult.

Based on this scientific advice, Food Standards Scotland and the Food Standards Agency have concluded that a healthy adult should not consume more than 10mg of CBD per day. While the ACNFP/COT advice is based on a specific subset of CBD products, Food Standards Scotland and the Food Standards Agency have taken the view that it is appropriate to make a recommendation on all CBD products as a precaution, to give maximum clarity to the public.

What this means for consumers

There is no acute safety risk with consuming more than 10mg of CBD a day, based on the data we have assessed to date. However, above this level, there is evidence of some adverse impacts on the liver and thyroid if consumed chronically. These effects are reversible if someone stops consuming CBD. The higher dose that is consumed and the more often higher doses are consumed will increase the risks of experiencing an adverse health effect.

We encourage consumers to monitor their daily consumption of CBD by checking the CBD content of the product and consider if they wish to change it in light of this updated advice.

Food Standards Scotland will continue to keep our consumer advice under review as we receive further assessments of the impacts of CBD. We will update our advice if new evidence indicates a change is needed.

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