Hemp as food

Hemp has been used for diverse purposes for a long time. It has also been used as food. It is especially the seed that is used for the production of many foodstuffs, such as hemp seed oil. The historical use of hemp and the different parts of the plant as food are currently being clarified and discussed in working groups of the EU Commission.  The aim is to detail the information on the history of use of hemp and its status as novel food in the Novel Food Catalogue of the Commission. This work has not been finished and the interpretations on this page will be updated if necessary.

The marketing of foods containing added cannabinoids (CBD- and CBD-A) requires an authorisation

Cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) are cannabinoids which occur naturally, especially in the leaves and flower heads. During the last few years, new hemp products have been launched which are especially marketed as sources of CBD.

According to current information, CBD or other cannabinoids do not have a known history of consumption as food prior to 1997.  They are therefore considered as novel foods according to current legislation, and a pre-market authorisation is required.

This is why foods, which are enriched with cannabinoids, are also considered to be novel foods.

Marketing of hemp as food

The marketing of food as having medicinal properties is always prohibited. Foods produced from hemp cannot be marketed using medicinal claims.

Only approved claims complying with legislation can be used for the marketing of hemp. Nutritional claims can be used for nutrients that the hemp contains. Health claims have only been applied for hemp seed oil. The Commission has not yet made a decision on whether to approve or reject the health claims in question. Health claims for which the assessment process is not yet finished can be used in marketing for the time being.

Contact the food control authority of your municipality if you discover inappropriate or misleading marketing (the contact details are below).