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Home > Survey: regulatory issues with hemp-based food and food supplements on the Irish market.

Food Safety Authority. (2020) Survey: regulatory issues with hemp-based food and food supplements on the Irish market. Dublin: Food Safety Authority.


Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) coordinated a survey of foods and food supplements on the Irish market that consist of or contain hemp (Cannabis sativa) or hemp-derived material. Samples were collected by Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) of the Health Service Executive and analysed by the Public Analyst laboratory in Dublin for the presence of a number of cannabinoids found naturally in hemp.

 

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of more than one hundred cannabinoids found naturally in the hemp plant (Cannabis sativa). Unlike the psychoactive cannabinoid Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC), CBD does not cause the euphoric “high” that is commonly associated with the consumption of narcotics. CBD is the predominant marketing feature associated with hemp-derived foods and food supplements placed on the EU market in recent years. As the market has expanded rapidly, so too have concerns about the safety, quality and integrity of many of the products on sale in Ireland, most of which originate outside of Ireland.

 

This FSAI survey has identified a considerable number of regulatory non-compliances with respect to EU and Irish food law. Many of the supplements had not been notified to the FSAI contrary to legal requirements and a substantial number are considered novel foods which require premarket authorisation under EU food law. The level of CBD content of all products determined by an accredited laboratory was found to vary considerably from that declared on associated packaging or online material.

 

Δ9-THC was detected in 84% of the products tested. The level of Δ9-THC in 37% of the products tested was such that consumption of the maximum stated dosages could result in a significant exceedance of the safety limit established by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in 2015. In addition to the safety risk, the presence of THC in these products also poses a risk to consumers who could unwittingly record a positive drug test (THC), potentially jeopardising their athletic or professional careers.

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