Cannabidiol in food and drink – what are the issues?

By Anton Alldrick - 9 April 2019

Ingredients derived from hemp (Cannabis sativa) are stimulating innovation in a wide range of food and drink products. Whilst this opens up new and potentially profitable markets, it also raises issues that companies who use the ingredients need to be aware of.

Hemp has a history of cultivation within European Union Member States both for industrial purposes and as a source of various food ingredients (e.g. plant parts such as seeds, seed oil, hemp seed flour and defatted hemp seed).

When referred to as cannabis, hemp is known in popular culture for its psychoactive properties. These are mainly attributable to the compound tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). As such, cannabis and cannabinols are controlled drugs within the meaning of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. Persons in the UK wishing to cultivate hemp legally for non-drug use may only cultivate varieties with a low THC content and under licence from the Home Office.

Over the last few years, interest has grown in another compound associated with hemp, cannabidiol (CBD) - as both a food supplement and as an ingredient. This compound is not considered to exert the same type of effects as THC and is not a controlled drug. However, the production and marketing of foods or food supplements containing CBD is complicated by the intersection of a number of pieces of legislation. These relate to the ‘Novel Food’ status of CBD (Regulation (EU) 2015/2283), any health claims that might be attached to products containing it (Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006) and the potential presence of contaminating THC with associated implications under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

The support needed by companies who want to bring legally compliant CBD-containing products to market is wide, varied and often complex. Examples of aspects we, at Campden BRI, are helping clients with include:

If you are involved in developing or marketing CBD-containing products and would like help with the above or related aspects, please get in touch.

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