Canadian firms seek ‘GRAS’ designation from U.S. authorities

Logo for Manitoba Harvest in Canada

Canadian hemp firms Manitoba Harvest and subsidiary Hemp Oil Canada say they’ve applied for certification under standards governing Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) designation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Manitoba Harvest is one of the world’s biggest hemp food makers. It purchased Hemp Oil Canada, a raw materials supplier, in 2015.

Certifying hemp foods are safe

GRAS certifies that substances in food are considered safe, exempting them from requirements under U.S. federal rules governing foods, cosmetics and drugs. Having the designation lifts barriers for hemp food innovators, those in the hemp ingredients trade, and mass-market food service buyers, the companies said in a release.

“This is a milestone for the entire hemp food industry,” said Bill Chiasson, CEO at Manitoba Harvest. The company is also accredited under standards from the British Retail Consortium (BRC), Chiasson noted.

“The use of hemp is expanding rapidly, and is now an in-demand ingredient for fast growing specialty food companies, but also large scale multinational packaged goods companies seeking to respond to consumer demand for more natural and high-nutrition products,” the companies noted.

Rollout of new protein powder

“This is an exciting time for Manitoba Harvest – hemp seeds are a sleeping giant pushing into the mainstream and we’re excited for this new ‘it food’ status,” said Mike Fata, founder of Manitoba Harvest.

The FDA application was announced at the recent Natural Products Expo West, during which Manitoba Harvest also debuted its new Hemp Yeah! Plant Protein Blend that’s expected to be in retail distribution by summer 2018. The vegan product is certified as organic and kosher, stevia- and dairy-free, and non-GMO.

The food producer said in February 2018 it limited fields in 2017 after the South Korean market collapsed, sparking fears of a Canadian hempseed glut. Manitoba said curtailment of its field leaves its supplies at a manageable level.

Manitoba Harvest’s products are sold in 22 countries, including some 13,000 retail stores across the USA and Canada. Through its Hemp Oil Canada brand, the company processes natural and organic hemp seeds which are sold as hulled seed, hemp oil, hemp protein, toasted hemp seed and coarse hemp powder.