Irish food safety officials order recall of products from three CBD brands

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Irish food safety authorities have issued an urgent product recall for three CBD brands, claiming the products contain unsafe levels of THC.

Brands implicated in the recall, ordered last week, are Jacob Hooy, Greenway and The Hemp Company. Certain batches of the products under those brands were found to contain THC levels beyond the “acute reference dose,” 2015 guidance from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) that sets the limit for delta-9-THC in hemp foods at 0.001 mg per kilogram of body weight.

Netherlands-based Jacob Hooy’s products are sold through the Holland & Barrett chain of health food stores in the UK; Greenway and The Hemp Company are based in Ireland.

An alert about the recall was posted on the website of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) last week.

Rules were changed

“In order to include our brand in this recall, FSAI unfortunately managed to find an out-of-date bottle of our 8% CBD oil,” said James McDonald, The Hemp Company’s CEO, who noted that changes instituted by FSAI in 2020 rendered that product non-compliant.

“The Hemp Company Dublin places huge importance on FSAI guidance at all times and, although the new regulations were introduced without prior notification, we immediately replaced all our CBD product labeling and packaging to reflect FSAI’s new instructions,” McDonald said in a statement. “The product now being recalled by FSAI is old and out of date, and to the best of our knowledge, is not currently on sale anywhere in Ireland.”

In a letter to FSAI in response to the recall, The Hemp Company agreed “the product identified by FSAI falls outside the recommended daily amount of THC, as per their February 2020 regulation changes.”

However, “this product was already on the market prior to those changes and the labeling reflects the known dosage directions at that time,” The Hemp Company noted.

The company said it has no products from the implicated batch in stock and assured FSAI current stocks carry dosage and directions consistent with the agency’s guidance.

Most of The Hemp Company’s CBD customers are familiar with its products and are aware of the European Court of Justice ruling on the legality and scientific safety of hemp-derived CBD, McDonald said. The court ruled late last year that CBD is not a narcotic, and that it may be traded freely within the EU.

‘Needlessly restrictive’

“They also understand that the THC guidance value being applied to CBD food products in Ireland is needlessly restrictive and not consistent with up-to-date scientific knowledge,” McDonald said.

The recall by FSAI is yet another indicator that food safety regulations that affect CBD in the European Union and at the national level of member states need to be overhauled. Stakeholders have long sought a uniform and scientifically-based EU-wide approach to THC rules for hemp products. Many EU countries do not have established limit values for THC intake from hemp foods.

CBD companies are anticipating change later this year when the European Commission is expected to reset the standard for THC at 7.5 mg per kilogram of body weight – with tolerance allowing up to 10.8 mg/kg.

That would put EU member states on an equal footing with North America, Australia and other markets that have operated under roughly similar limits for nearly two decades, and open up the possibility of expanding CBD exports from Europe.

Batches affected

FSAI said consumers should not purchase any of the infected batches included in the recall in Ireland:

  • Jacob Hooy 2.75% cbd+ with a batch number 060977-0302 and a best-before date of February 2022, in a 10ml unit;
  • Greenway CBD Hemp oil with a batch number CB60001 and a best-before date of Dec. 12, 2022, in a 10ml unit;
  • The Hemp Company CBD Original Oil with a batch number 10-10-139 and a best-before date of April 2021, in a 10ml unit.

Retailers have been instructed to remove the products from sale. The recall requires inspectors to seize the products and remove any that are still on store shelves. FSAI said notices about the recall will be displayed at physical points of sale, and on e-commerce sites that offer the products.

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