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What Rules Will Govern Claims Relating to CBD in Food, Beverages and Supplements?

Within the last two months, three class action lawsuits have been filed in federal courts against companies that sell ingestible products containing cannabidiol (CBD), a chemical compound found in the cannabis plant, alleging that the products contain significantly less CBD than advertised.  Sellers of other food and supplement products facing this type of claim regarding their non-CBD products’ content have successfully argued that such claims are preempted by the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) and its implementing regulations.  But the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not yet approved CBD as an ingestible ingredient, food or dietary supplement.  And while some states have followed the FDA’s lead, other states have legalized sales of ingestible, hemp-derived CBD products.  This can leave food, beverage, and supplement companies confused about what rules apply to CBD as an ingredient in ingestible products.

The first of the three class actions was filed on

California Chamber of Commerce Challenges Prop. 65 Warning for Acrylamide in Food and Beverage Products

October 18, 2019

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The California Chamber of Commerce has filed a lawsuit seeking to prevent the state from “enforcing a requirement to provide a false, misleading, and highly controversial cancer warning for food and beverage [] products that contain the chemical acrylamide.” Cal. Chamber of Commerce v. Becerra, No. 19-0962 (E.D. Cal., October 7, 2019).

The complaint argues that although “certain governmental and scientific entities” have identified acrylamide as a carcinogen in laboratory animals, “[s]cientific studies in humans, however, have found no reliable evidence that exposure to acrylamide in food products is associated with an increased risk of developing any type of cancer. In fact, epidemiologic evidence suggests that dietary acrylamide—i.e., acrylamide that forms naturally in normal cooking of many food products—does not cause cancer in humans or pose an increased risk of cancer in humans. Indeed, some food products that contain acrylamide (e.g., whole grains and coffee) have been shown to

Congress Presses FDA to Act on CBD Regulations

Following statements by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that cannabidoil (CBD) in food and beverage products remains illegal, and amid the patchwork of state laws and enforcement actions, a group of U.S. lawmakers, led by Reps. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) and James Comer (R-Ky.), have urged the FDA to “quickly adopt a policy of enforcement discretion and to consider issuing an interim final rule to regulate CBD as a dietary supplement and food additive while simultaneously moving forward with a robust framework for evaluating the safety and accurate labeling of these products.” The letter stated that the agency’s “current regulatory posture on CBD has created significant regulatory and legal uncertainty for participants in this quickly evolving industry. We are discouraged by FDA’s estimation that a rulemaking process could span 3 to 5 years. We believe there are more expeditious measures that FDA could take that would establish regulatory

FTC Warns Companies Against Advertising CBD Products as Treating or Curing Diseases

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has announced that it sent warning letters to three companies that sell “oils, tinctures, capsules, ‘gummies,’ and creams containing cannabidiol (CBD),” a chemical compound derived from the cannabis plant. The letters warn the companies, which have not been identified, that “it is illegal to advertise that a product can prevent, treat, or cure human disease without competent and reliable scientific evidence to support such claims.”

The FTC states that each company marketed its CBD products as being able to “treat or cure serious disease and health conditions,” such as relieving “’even the most agonizing pain’ better than prescription opioid painkillers,” or treating cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), fibromyalgia, cigarette addiction, colitis, schizophrenia, anxiety, depression, Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS), stroke, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, traumatic brain injuries, diabetes, Crohn’s disease, psoriasis, and AIDS.

In the letters, the FTC urges the companies to review all

Food Suppliers: Understand What Your Contamination and Recall Insurance Policies Do and Don’t Cover – Then Plan Accordingly

Last year saw a massive E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce which left growers, packers and retailers struggling to identify root causes and assign liability – all while trying to protect end users from illness and injury.  To address the costs of contamination and recalls, food producers and manufacturers commonly obtain contamination insurance.  However, typical contamination policies cover only those losses incurred due to actual contamination, while arguably providing no coverage for recalls due to potential contamination.  A company that recalled its salads due to a risk that its romaine was contaminated with E. coli faces the likelihood that its insurer will claim the recall costs are not covered under the standard food contamination insurance policies – even though the recall was in the public’s best interest.  Food suppliers should evaluate whether there is a gap in their insurance coverage created by the limited language in certain contamination policies

California Prop. 65 Regulation Exempts Certain Coffee Chemicals From Cancer Warning; Stay in Coffee Case Lifted

June 26, 2019

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California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (“OEHHA”) has finalized a highly anticipated Proposition 65 regulation relating to coffee. The regulation, California Code of Regulations Section 25704, takes effect October 1, 2019. Section 25704 provides: “Exposures to chemicals in coffee, listed on or before March 15, 2019 as known to the state to cause cancer, that are created by and inherent in the processes of roasting coffee beans or brewing coffee do not pose a significant risk of cancer.”

As we previously reported, OEHHA issued a notice of proposed rulemaking concerning the regulation in June 2018. The Office of Administrative Law approved adoption of the regulation on June 3, 2019, and OEHHA issued a Final Statement of Reasons on June 7.

OEHHA’s Final Statement of Reasons concludes that “the weight of the evidence from the very large number of studies in the scientific literature does not support