German govt and Euro hemp trade group clash over CBD status

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

©iStock/Yarygin
©iStock/Yarygin

Related tags: Cbd, BMEL

The German Food and Agriculture Ministry (BMEL) has refuted an EU hemp group missive that the Ministry had changed its position regarding the novel food requirement for some cannabidiol (CBD) extracts in the EU.

“The statement of the EIHA concerning food products containing CBD is surprising and not understandable,”​ BMEL spokesperson Michaela Bürgelt relayed.

“For extracts of Cannabis sativa L. and derived products containing cannabinoids (e. g. CBD) a significant history of consumption in the EU has still not been demonstrated by the economic operators, nor by the EIHA or any other association. For this reason, they are still considered EU-wide as novel foods.”

Despite the BMEL clarification, the European Industrial Hemp Association is sticking to its guns, maintaining that the BMEL had stated in meetings and issued statements last year that some hemp extracts had a sufficient history of use in the EU to avoid the thorny knot of novel foods approval.

EIHA lawyers sent a letter to the BMEL and the Germany’s Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL) which maintains "there is no known case in which CBD could be marketed in foods, including food supplements."

EIHA stands ground

The letter stated EIHA was in possession of a ‘response letter’ from the BMEL which affirmed the history of use of some hemp forms like flowers and leaves, thereby exempting them from novel food requirements.

“EIHA merely compared the written answers of the BVL and the Federal Government as well as the BMEL and was allowed to conclude that in contrast to the BVL, the BMEL takes a more differentiated view of the assessment of the ‘novelty of hemp-containing products’, which in the opinion of EIHA is also correct and absolutely right,”​ the EIHA’s legal counsel wrote, adding:

“In my view EIHA has not the slightest reason to withdraw anything from the press release of 3 March 2020.”

Whilst not legally binding, the submission​ to the novel foods catalogue, specifically by the European Commission's Working Group of Novel Foods, states all forms of CBD including isolates and full spectrum extracts require novel foods approval.

However, the EU’s 27 member states, along with the UK, are interpreting and enforcing this status in variable ways. 

The BMEL said its CBD position was affirmed “after reviewing and evaluating all available information in the EU Member States and at the European Commission. Therefore, the views on the classification of CBD of the BVL and the BMEL do not differ and the position of the BVL has not changed.”

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