Amendments to regulations to allow the sale of hemp seeds as food take effect today.
The Head of New Zealand Food Safety, Bryan Wilson, says there was wide support for changes to introduce hemp seed into the New Zealand food supply.
Hemp seeds are safe to eat and nutritious and they produce no psychoactive or therapeutic effects, he said.
New Zealand Food Safety and the Ministry of Health jointly consulted earlier this year on proposed changes to the Misuse of Drugs (Industrial Hemp) Regulations 2006 and the Food Regulations 2015 to allow the sale of hemp seed as food.
Sixty-four submissions were received from industry groups, growers, businesses, and consumers, the majority of respondents strongly in favour of changes to allow hemp seed and hemp seed products to be sold as food. Submitters also requested more guidance surrounding the Misuse of Drugs (Industrial Hemp) Regulations 2006.
To support the new hemp seed industry, New Zealand Food Safety has produced two new guides – A guide to hemp seeds as food and A guide to labelling food containing hemp seeds. These provide information on what hemp seeds or hemp seed products are allowed as food, what rules need to be met and how to meet them, and what information needs to be included on the label.
Although hemp seeds can now be sold as food, hemp production continues to be regulated to ensure that illegal, high-THC cannabis is not produced.
Hemp flowers and leaves are not permitted. Growing, possession, and trade of whole seeds require a licence from the Ministry of Health.
New Zealand Food Safety will ensure the THC levels in the hemp seed food products are monitored through the normal process of ensuring food is safe and suitable to eat. These processes involve registering a business under the Food Act 2014, following a risk management programme, and adhering to all other Ministry for Primary Industry requirements applicable to the product and situation, says Mr Wilson.
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Source: Ministry for Primary Industries