Lifting Of AU/NZ Hemp Food Ban Inches Closer

Hemp food ban
Hempseed Image: BigStock

An agreement struck at a Forum on Food Regulation teleconference of Australian and New Zealand Ministers has moved both countries closer towards the lifting of prohibition on hemp based foods.

It’s been a slow journey, really slow – and still has some way to go – but the light may finally be appearing at the end of the tunnel for hemp food supporters in Australia and New Zealand. Thankfully, it doesn’t appear to be an oncoming train.

According to Tasmania’s Minister for Health, Michael Ferguson,  forum members have formally agreed to task Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) to begin work on developing a draft proposal on how low-THC hemp could be legally designated as a food.

“This is a common sense move to ensure that once testing is complete the legalisation of low-THC hemp in food can be formally considered at the earliest possible opportunity without further delay”, said Minister Ferguson.

Tasmania’s Minister for Primary Industries and Water, Jeremy Rockliff, says Tasmanian farmers will be able to capitalise on new markets if the Federal ban on hemp foods in the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code is lifted.

It’s not just Tasmania’s farmers who are poised to gain – there are hemp farmers waiting around the country; not to mention many Australian consumers waiting to buy products.

Australia and New Zealand are the only countries in the world where the sale of hemp food is generally still illegal – and even New Zealand has some exceptions to the rule.

Hemp seeds, from the industrial hemp plant, have been used as food for thousands of years. As more research is carried out, it becomes increasingly clear hempseed isn’t just any food, but a true superfood. Recently it’s been found that hempseed oil could play a role in reducing risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Up to 35% of the weight of hempseed is an edible oil rich in essential fatty acids including linoleic acid (LA) Omega-6* (43-62%), aro– alpha-linolenic acid, omega-3 (ALA, 22%), gamma-linolenic acid, omega-6 (GLA, 1–4%) and stearidonic acid, omega-3 (SDA, 0–2%). The seed is also rich in protein.