Euro stakeholders take a stand in Germany over ‘novel foods’

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Hemp food stakeholders in Europe have taken a stand over hemp extracts in Germany after that country’s Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL) last month declared CBD may not be sold in food.

Calling the declaration, published March 20 on BVL’s web site, “strange and incomprehensible,” the European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA), rebutted the ruling in a sharp and detailed 10-page letter April 11.

“Consumer and employees of (EIHA) members… are confused. Some (EIHA) members… that legally produce and/or sell CBD-containing cannabis products for consumption are quasi-publicly classified in a sort of ‘illegal industry’ and discriminated against,” the letter said.

EIHA called on BVL to “change or supplement” the statement “without delay, in order to prevent avoidable confusion among the targeted market groups.”

What BVL declared

In the statement, the consumer protection agency said it “knows of no case in which cannabidiol (CBD) would be marketable in foods; that is also food supplements. “The BVL believes that CBD-containing products either require an application for licensing of a medicine or an application for licensing of a novel food before marketing,” the declaration continued.

The development in Germany is only the latest skirmish as the EIHA is fighting to clarify and make fully legal food products derived from the hemp plant across the EU. EIHA has been forced to push back at language in Union rules affecting extracts — most importantly CBD — following an update earlier this year to the EU’s Novel Food Catalogue, a listing of foods that were not commonly eaten in the member states before 1997.

The Catalogue is essentially a food safety mechanism, intended and invented to control new, genetically or synthetically designed food products before market entry.

Potential market disruption

EIHA has taken great pains in research to prove that foods and food ingredients coming from hemp plants have been eaten for ages in Europe and therefore should not have to undergo expensive and laborious requirements under novel food registration.

The situation regarding definition of hemp extracts threatens to disrupt the entire – and fast-growing – hemp food business throughout EU Member State markets, EIHA has warned.

“The Novel Food Catalogue was intended and invented to control new, genetically or synthetically designed food products before market entry – not to hinder products that have been consumed for ages,” EIHA has said.

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