Utah Bans Hemp In Pet Food

Industrial hemp products in pet food.
Image credit: StockSnap

The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF) has banned the use of hemp and hemp products in pet food.

UDAF says it considers pet food containing such products to be “adulterated” and prohibited for sale under state and federal laws.

“There are many unanswered questions about how the ingredients in hemp could interact with large and small animals,” said Robert Hougaard, Director of the Division of Plant Industry and Conservation. “Until sufficient peer reviewed science is presented and the FDA and AAFCO have accepted them as an approved animal feed ingredient, the UDAF will continue to prohibit the manufacturing and distribution of the adulterated products.” he added.

UDAF says it has concerns about the presence of cannabinoids such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) in pet food. Dogs in particular have a sensitivity to THC, which can cause marijuana toxicosis when consumed in large enough quantities. However, THC exists in very low levels in industrial hemp and even lower in hemp seed, from which many food products are made. The issue of the presence of CBD potentially having a negative effect is also debatable – some believe cannabidiol (assuming reasonable levels) is beneficial for pets.

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UDAF says it has issued warning letters to 27 businesses throughout the state so far, asking them to stop the manufacturing and distribution of pet food containing hemp, plus requesting these businesses to undertake voluntary recalls. If the notices are ignored, UDAF will examine its options for taking further action.

Announcement of the ban has apparently led to a rush on products. Some businesses are standing their ground.

One company claims a loophole for their products is the fact that they aren’t classified as a pet food, rather a supplement. It says any product that doesn’t claim to have nutritional value or use the terms ‘biscuit’ or ‘treat’ in its labels is not affected under the law.

One state investigating the potential for using hemp in animal feed is Colorado. Last year, we mentioned a bill that could ultimately see industrial hemp products again allowed in animal feed was passed by the state’s House of Representatives. It was signed into law by Governor Hickenlooper on March 20, 2017.

Hemp has been used in animal feed in various parts of the world for a very long time; albeit mainly for farm animals. The byproduct of hemp oil extraction for human consumption is called hemp cake, which is considered a nutritious stock fodder.

The use of cannabis based therapies and supplements for pets is generating significant interest among pet owners. Learn more in our guide to cannabidiol and pets.