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Australian food advances amid confidence

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Australian hemp companies could be poised to quickly grab a bigger chunk of the estimated $1 billion global food market after Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) this week recommended hemp for human consumption in both countries.

“I’m very confident it will be very different this time,” Paul Benhaim, Hemp Foods Australia CEO told The Land, echoing high confidence among Australian farmers that long-delayed legalization would finally open up the domestic market.

“I’ve been given a nod and a wink that the (THC test) results are absolutely positive,” Benhaim said of testing critical to the changes, echoing Australian farmers’ confidence the government will enact the changes.

That approval could mean a 400% increase in demand for Australian grown hemp over the next few years, Benhaim has said. The Australian domestic market is now estimated at $13 million based only on seed and straw production; most of that from firms in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania. Some estimates show expansion of the hemp foods and CBD sectors could be a significant contributor to such a massive jump.

FSANZ has given such a positive decision on hemp foods four times since 2002, only to have the government block legalization.

Long road to hemp food

(Source: The Land)

FSANZ report in 2002 concluded that “on the basis of the data available, there is no evidence of adverse health effects in humans at low levels of THC exposure and a tolerable daily intake of 6 μg/kg bw can be established.

  • May 2002 – Ministers decide to keep prohibition because it “may send a confused message to consumers about the acceptability and safety of Cannabis”
  • December 2009 – new application from Dr Andrew Katelaris
  • December 2011 – FSANZ risk assessment finds “that the TDI of 6 μg THC per kg bw remains valid”
  • November 2012 – FSANZ approval report approves “a variation to Standard 1.4.4 that permits the sale of foods derived from the seeds of low THC varieties of C. sativa”
  • December 2012 – Ministers agree to review, seek advice from police and emergency services
  • December 2013 – Ministers agree to consider application
  • December 2014 – FSANZ review report “re-affirmed the approval of the variation to Standard 1.4.4”
  • January 2015 – Ministers reject application
  • July 2015 – Ministers expect to consider again in first quarter 2016
  • November 2015 – Ministerial communique confirms police tests delayed to end of 2016
  • March 2017 – FSANZ again recommend low-THC hemp for sale and consumption
  • April 28, 2017 – Meeting of the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation

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