The survey, carried out by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI), reveals that 37% of the products tested had a tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content that could exceed safety limits set by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).
In addition, over 40% of samples varied significantly (over 50%) from declared CBD content, which the FSAI says, places consumers at risk of “being grossly misled to being put at risk by the ingestion of relatively high levels of THC”.
However, a retailer of one of the recalled products in question, hit back at the FSAI’s findings calling the current situation “untenable”.
“The discrepancy, with all of this, relates to where on the spectrum the TRACE amounts of THC sit and where that sits within Food Law, and other relevant law,” says Ireland-based retailer Little Collins CBD Dispensary.
“There exists CLEAR and SUBSTANTIAL confusion between current FSAI testing methods, accepted practice and indeed prior communications from said Government body.
“The situation remains untenable; it is grossly unjust to punish the end user and the retailer for a lack of clear framework and governance in the emerging cannabis industry in Ireland.
“We are disappointed at the lack of prior consultation from the FSAI. In the cannabis industry, trust is everything and such a broad-brush statement from a State body, effectively tarnishing every company on the list they published, is extremely unwarranted in the circumstances.”
Manufactured outside country
The survey was undertaken by the FSAI due to the rapid and significant increase in the availability of these products on the market in Ireland, the EU and other parts of the world.
The majority of the 38 products tested from the Irish market were manufactured outside of the country.
It also found 34% (13/38) of the samples are classified as novel foods and thus require authorisation before being placed on the EU market. FSAI says these products should not be on the market.
Further findings reveal that 36% (13/36) of samples classed as food supplements had not been notified to the FSAI before being placed on the market, as required by the law.
Many of those notified also have issues to be addressed, such as notifying changes of labels.
Another retailer, named in the recall of CBD foods and food supplements as a result of the survey highlights one FSAI comment that states, "There are no immediate dangers associated with the consumption of these products".
“Today the FSAI issued a recall of our uHemp 3% CBD oil because they claim it contains 'too much' THC - or delta‐9‐tetrahydrocannabinol,” says Irish organic CBD suppliers uHemp.
“Our products are produced under EU government licence to exact specification and contain less than 0.2% THC as per regulation. The official FSAI Lab report can be viewed here.
“We are happy with the report as it confirms that our uHemp 3% oil contains all the Cannabinoids that you would expect and that is advertised. The FSAI also claim that 41% of the products tested contained CBD levels which differed by over 50%.
“They state some products had barely detectable levels of CBD. So based on their lab report we are delighted to see that our product does not fall into this categories and is of the highest quality in Ireland.”
‘Appropriate action will be taken’
According to FSAI’s CEO Dr Pamela Byrne, it is difficult to estimate the number of these CBD-based products on the market in Ireland.
This is due to many of these food supplements, which come from outside of Ireland, not been notified to the FSAI contrary to legal requirements and are traded online.
“We carried out this survey to determine exactly how compliant these products are with EU and Irish food legislation,” she says.
“People consuming CBD products where the quality control is poor may not be getting what they are paying for and also could unwittingly be exposing themselves to psychoactive THC.
“Also of concern is that people consuming CBD products containing significantly high levels of THC could fail a drug test and the implicated batches of the products identified in the survey are now subject to a product recall.
“We are working with the Environmental Health Service of the HSE in relation to other products identified in the survey and further appropriate action will be taken.”