The Nine Australian and One New Zealand Food and Health Ministers will vote on A 1039 on Friday 30 January 2015.
The Ten Ministers of the FSANZ Forum will meet in The Pullman Hotel, Auckland on Friday 3oth.
This could be a milestone date, as a yes vote to the variation to the Food Standard 1.4.4 would allow the Australian and New Zealand public to have access to some hemp seed foods.
The seeds offered as food or added to food, would have to have less than 5mg/kg of THC, they would need to be non-viable and hulled. This would cover oil, beverages and other substances made from hemp seeds.
Australian company, Ecofibre put forward the first Application A360 – Hemp as Novel Food in 1998, nearly 17 years latter we have now got to the stage of a potential YES vote.
The variation that the Food Officials have put forwarded is a diluted version of what most of the submissions from Industry were favouring.
Through out the consultative process the Ministers have repeatedly requested additional information on a range of topics that were not food related. Such as the effect of eating hemp seed foods on road side saliva THC tests (in Australia.) The answer to this is simple, there is no THC in hemp seed. Trace amounts can be detected, these come from residues on the outside of the seed which were not removed during cleaning and processing. Bearing in mind that all seeds come from licenced low THC hemp farmers any of these trace amounts would leave even less THC in the foods. This means the minute amounts you are exposed to would not trigger a drug test at any level.
These requests have delayed the process. In the end the officials came up with four variations for consideration, the recommend version was the one deemed most likely to succeed with the least changes to regulation required.
Clearly from the hemp industry point of view it has come up massively short, as we are still not able to supply whole hemp seeds (in their own perfect packaging) direct to the public, as is done in many countries, including England.
However a yes vote, would get us a step forward and is a step in the right direction.
There will still be some work to do as the states, territories and governments work through any issues with their local regulations and the NZHIA and industry look forward to working with the officials to expedite this process.
See the draft variation at A 1039 DRAFT Variation