FDA faces more pressure to regulate CBD from food interests

A trade group representing the consumer packaged goods industry has written to the head of FDA and a U.S. senator, underscoring the importance of creating a federal regulatory framework for a hemp-based ingredient that is subject to a patchwork of state requirements.

Josh Long, Associate editorial director, Natural Products Insider

July 30, 2021

3 Min Read
FDA faces more pressure to regulate CBD from food interests

The Consumer Brands Association (Consumer Brands) said in a recent letter to FDA’s acting commissioner that the agency must establish a regulatory framework for CBD to protect consumers.

Despite FDA’s long-held position that CBD cannot be sold in conventional food or dietary supplements, the market has continued to grow, with a Consumer Brands/Ipsos poll finding 26% of Americans have used CBD.

“It is time for the federal government to engage more meaningfully on regulating CBD, given the continued expansion of a ‘Wild West’ CBD market,” said Betsy Booren, senior vice president of regulatory and technical affairs with Consumer Brands, in a July 22 press release. “Smart, clearly articulated regulations are essential to providing consumers assurance a product is safe regardless of which state it was purchased in and gives them the information they need to make informed choices.”

In the absence of federal rules governing CBD, many states have jumped in to regulate the market. In a July 22 letter to FDA’s acting commissioner, Dr. Janet Woodcock, Booren pointed out a lack of uniformity among the states. She said 38 states have 135 proposals that “threaten to further confuse the disparate CBD regulations already on states’ books.”

“Some states, like New York, have promulgated very robust regulatory requirements,” Booren wrote to Woodcock. “Unfortunately, well-intentioned state CBD regulations have created a confusing, conflicting regulatory patchwork that fails to establish uniform requirements for the safe formulation, production, labeling and marketing of these products.”

Consumer Brands requested FDA:

  • Update stakeholders on the scientific data needed to ascertain the safety of CBD products;

  • Create a framework where CPG companies notify FDA of CBD-containing products and furnish safety data for the agency’s review;

  • Provide an update on its progress in establishing a regulatory framework for CBD products;

  • Provide technical aid to Congress;

  • Continue to target “bad actors” in enforcement actions; and

  • Develop a plan of action for moving CBD-containing products on the current market to the new regulatory framework.

Consumer Brands, which was known as the Grocery Manufacturers Association until changing its name in 2020, represents the consumer packaged goods industry. Its members have more than 1,700 brands, and several people on its board of directors are affiliated with food and beverage heavyweights like ConAgra Brands, General Mills and The Coca-Cola Company.

“The Consumer Brands Association is united with the FDA in the shared belief that American consumers need smart, consistent regulations to assure CBD products in the marketplace are safe,” Booren concluded in her letter to Woodcock. “We look forward to working toward this shared goal.”

An FDA spokesman said the agency will respond directly to Consumer Brands.

On July 22, Consumer Brands also sent a letter to Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon who chairs the Senate Committee on Finance and introduced a bill in 2021 known as S.1698, or the Hemp Access and Consumer Safety Act. Consumer Brands expressed its support for the bill, which would legalize CBD and other hemp-derived ingredients in dietary supplements and conventional food and beverages.

A recent poll conducted by Consumer Brands found 74% percent of American consumers either incorrectly assume or don’t know if CBD is regulated, Consumer Brands advised Wyden. In the same poll, when asked to judge their knowledge of CBD on a scale of one to ten, consumers rated themselves an average of 3.3.

“The widespread availability of CBD-containing products, coupled with this knowledge gap and the lack of federal regulation should create urgency for FDA to engage,” Jen Daulby, Consumer Brands’ senior vice president of government affairs, wrote to Wyden. “American consumers deserve to know that the products they are using are manufactured using best practices and are safe for their intended use.”







About the Author(s)

Josh Long

Associate editorial director, Natural Products Insider, Informa Markets Health and Nutrition

Josh Long has been a journalist since 1997, holds a J.D. from the University of Wyoming College of Law, and was admitted to practice law in Colorado in 2008. Josh is the legal and regulatory editor with Informa's Health and Nutrition Network, specializing on matters related to Natural Products Insider. Ping him with story ideas at [email protected].

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