(Bloomberg) -- Retailers in the U.K. are removing some edible products containing cannabis derivative CBD from shelves as compliance concerns mount following the food regulator’s decision to rein in the industry.

Online giant Amazon.com Inc said it’s in the process of removing any products not included in the Food Standards Agency’s list of about 3,500 CBD edibles, ranging from gummies to oils, that have passed the initial stage of assessment. Healthcare retailer Holland & Barrett said it has withdrawn four products from sale in an emailed statement. 

Other retailers say they are navigating a complex review of their inventory against the list published by FSA, which represents only a fraction of CBD products on sale in the country. 

Sales of CBD products in the U.K., including food and cosmetics, have ballooned into a nearly 500 million-pound ($654 million) industry according to Prohibition Partners, a research firm focused on cannabis. Consumers have responded to claims that CBD relieves anxiety, chronic pain and other ailments. With further growth projected, the FSA is trying to vet the industry and assess the safety of the edible goods being sold. 

Supermarket chain Asda Stores Ltd. revealed that it had been in talks with the food regulator, which allowed it to continue selling all its CBD products pending further testing. 

“As the testing continues, products may change status and should any of our currently listed CBD products change category to be not permitted for sale we will of course withdraw them,” the spokesperson said in an emailed statement. 

Products not listed or confirmed to be part of an ongoing application with the FSA will be removed from sale immediately, said a spokeswoman from J Sainsbury Plc, Britain’s second-largest supermarket chain. 

The new enforcement environment will cause short term-term disruptions for retailers, although direct-to-consumer online channels, which represent a major portion of CBD sales are “much less likely to see enforcement”, according to Charlotte Bowyer, Head of Consulting at Hanway Associates, a cannabis research firm. 

Some smaller producers and distributors of CBD products may not even apply for approval from the FSA. 

“The novel food process is long, technically challenging and expensive for CBD producers,” Bowyer said. “There are also wider issues with the approval process, such as the need for animal testing.” 


©2022 Bloomberg L.P.