In a landmark decision, EU Member States have consented to an update of the Novel Food Catalogue. Hemp leaves for herbal infusions are now considered a traditional food, and this change really matters.
In the EU, novel foods can’t be on the market, or used in foods until products have been authorised and included in the Union list of authorised novel foods. It’s a huge hurdle.
But following extensive deliberation, an update including a comprehensive list of additional hemp products under the “Cannabis sativa L.” entry that do not fall within the Novel Food regulation’s purview came into effect on June 2, 2023. Among the products are hemp leaves for aqueous infusions, e.g., teas. These are now permissible to be on the market, barring specific national-level decisions to the contrary.
“This is a significant achievement for our sector, demonstrating that a collective industry effort is essential for normalizing the hemp plant and its products,” said European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA) President, Daniel Kruse.
One of the important points to get hemp leaf over the line and away from novel foods restrictions was the fact hemp leaves had been conventionally consumed as food, especially in aqueous infusions, before 1997. Novel Food is defined as food that has not been consumed to a significant degree by humans in the EU before 15 May 1997, which was when the first regulation came into play.
The revision is also consistent with the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961, which distinctly exempts hemp leaves.
“These changes will bring much-needed legal certainty, eliminating any doubts surrounding the open marketing of hemp seed-derived food and leaves for water infusion throughout Europe,” said EIHA Managing Director Lorenza Romanese.
Ms. Romanese added this will create another much-needed revenue stream for farmers and business operators; while reducing misinterpretation, seizures, and unnecessary administrative requirements.
The EIHA Conference to be held in Brussels from June 7th to 9th will feature presentations by international experts on the latest developments – including this change – and future outlooks for the sector. EIHA represents the combined interests of hemp farmers, producers, and traders, and aims to represent, serve, and protect the hemp sector in the EU and international policymaking.