Australia ponders legalising hemp foods

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Cannabis Hemp Fsanz

Will Australia and New Zealand join Europe, Canada and the US by authorising hemp foods?
Will Australia and New Zealand join Europe, Canada and the US by authorising hemp foods?
Australian regulators are considering allowing non-psychoactive versions of fatty acid and nutrient-rich hemp into the food supply and have opened a public consultation on the matter.

Responding to an application to permit Cannabis sativa​ extracts in the food supply that were low in the psychoactive constituent, delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) noted its use in other parts of the world.

“Hemp is cultivated worldwide, including in Australia and New Zealand, and is used as a source of many products, ranging from foods, to cosmetic products, to clothing and building products,”​ FSANZ said.

“Hemp foods are widely available in many overseas markets, including Europe, Canada and the United States of America. Hempseed oil is permitted to be sold as a food in New Zealand. However, the use of hemp as a food in Australia, and for foods other than hempseed oil in New Zealand, is still prohibited.”

Information about the application and the consultation that remains open until April 27, 2011, can be found here.

“FSANZ has conducted a safety assessment to determine whether there are any risks associated with the consumption of hemp foods,”​ the agency said.

“FSANZ has not identified any safety concerns relating to the consumption of hemp foods. Hempseeds, which are the main part of the hemp plant utilised as a food source, have a favourable nutritional profile and may offer an alternative plant source for a range of nutrients (including omega-3 fatty acids, protein and some vitamins and minerals).”

But it said issues surrounding high THC versions leaking into the food supply, possible psychoactive marketing of hemp foods, and potential for positive drug tests had to be discussed.

Other issues relate to identifying and quantifying potential impacts of an approval of hemp foods on other food regulatory stakeholders, food manufacturers and consumers. FSANZ believes that before it can present a preferred option in terms of any potential approval of low THC hemp foods, these issues need to be discussed by the broader community, including, consumers, the hemp industry, food regulators and other interested parties.”

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