FSSAI Recognises Hemp Products as Food

The recent FSSAI notification to sell and use Hemp products as food ingredients expands scope of business for the hemp industry. Lets discuss what is Hemp & the impact of new FSSAI standards.

A recent Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) notification says that hemp seed, hemp seed oil and hemp seed flour can be sold as food or as an ingredient for food. This is a welcome move considering that the global legal cannabis market was valued at USD 12.8 bn in 2021 and is projected to reach a value of USD 48.3 bn by 2028 (at a CAGR of 24.80% over the forecast period).


What is Hemp?  Hemp is a variety of the Cannabis Sativa plant. 
What is the difference between Hemp and Marijuana? Both Hemp and Marijuana are the same species, but Hemp contains 0.3% or less THC content (by dry weight) and Marijuana contains more than 0.3% THC (by dry weight).
 

Hemp seeds and their respective products are tested on different parameters of total cannabidiol (CBD), tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabinoid levels along with the proper labelling direction to ensure their safe usage. THC and CBD are naturally present as chemical compounds in the cannabis plant.


Commercial use of Hemp

  • Hemp can be used to make cloth, cosmetics, rope, printer’s ink, wood preservative, detergents, soaps, and lighting oil. Even the seeds are used to produce a variety of food products.


Medicinal Use of Hemp

  • Hemp seed: Hemp seed is a powerful source of nutrition. It is loaded with fibre, protein and healthy fatty acids including omega 3s and 6s. These healthy fatty acids are beneficial for heart health as they help in balancing blood pressure, reducing cholesterol and triglycerides. Other benefits include – they act as antioxidant, reduce inflammation as they are loaded with gamma-linolenic acid, and lessen the impact of Rheumatoid Arthritis.
  • Hemp seed oil: Hemp seed oil is derived from the hemp plant seed via the cold-pressing extraction process. The oil is enriched with high content of three polyunsaturated fatty acids, i.e., alpha-linolenic acid, gamma-linolenic acid and linolenic acid. Its benefits include - boosts heart health, good for skin, lowers blood pressure, reduces inflammation, relieves pain, and ensures a healthy pregnancy.
  • Hemp seed flour: It is highly nutritious. Hemp oil is processed with a cold-pressing process. After pressing the oil, ‘hemp cake’ is left behind which is firmly milled and then turned into highly nutritious hemp flour. It is loaded with protein and omega 3s and 6s, vital amino acids, minerals and vitamins, and is gluten free.


Global market for Hemp


USA, Canada & Mexico:

  • USA, Canada and Mexico make up the world’s largest continental cannabis market, which was worth USD 18.1 billion in 2020.
  • North America is a massive market for Indian hemp.
  • It is estimated that 64 million US adults had tried CBD in the previous two years to relax and reduce stress/anxiety. Thus, the USA is a potentially huge market for Indian hemp medicinal products.
 

Europe:

  • The global hemp seeds market size was valued at USD 710.7 Mn in 2019 and is projected to reach USD 1,634.6 Mn by 2027, with the European market leading the way.
  • As of December 2021, Malta became the first European country to fully legalize recreational cannabis. Three other countries have also started the process towards legalization, and a number of others are expected to fully legalize in the next few years, namely: Germany, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Spain, and Switzerland.


Asia Pacific:

  • The Asia-Pacific CBD oil market was valued at USD 173.36 million in 2021 and is expected to reach USD 1755.34 million by 2029.
  • In this region, the prospects of hemp include: (1) Good replacement for plastic since hemp is non-toxic and bio-degradable; (2) Increasing use in the textile industry; and (3) Rising use in healthcare, especially cancer, where hemp has yielded positive results.
 

FSSAI notified standards about Hemp products


The notification issued by FSSAI has brought a revolution in the hemp industry in India. The usage of hemp seeds and other products made with hemp seeds like oil and flour as a food ingredient or source is a pioneering innovation in food products. It has opened the door to employment opportunities.

The Gazette of India that announced this notification clarifies all the standards and details about hemp seeds and their ailed products. Clarification comprises the safety parameters, maximum and minimum requirements, as well as detailed specifications for packaging.

  • Total THC should only be 0.2mg/kg in any hemp seeds beverages.
  • Total THC content in any other hemp food product for sale shouldn’t exceed 5 mg/kg.
  • Cannabidiol (CBD) in any hemp seed or its respective food products should be 75 mg/kg.
  • The hemp seed products shouldn’t be labelled as a nutrient that contains CBD or as a health product that contains CBD. 
  • The hemp seed products should not have the image of any part of the cannabis plant and even the words ‘marijuana’.
  • The hemp seed products shouldn’t be labelled as a nutrient or health product that has psychoactive effects.
  • It is illegal to manufacture, sale or import any hemp seed product intended for administration to child up to the age of 24 months.
 

Conclusion: Hemp industry in India


The hemp industry in India is worth USD 2-3 million and is predicted to grow to USD 500-700 million over the next few years. The market is driven by the growing demand for hemp oil and fibres in the automotive, construction, food and beverage, personal care, and textile industries, especially in emerging regions such as the Asia Pacific.

In July 2018, Uttarakhand became the first state to permit commercial cultivation of industrial hemp. Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan are soon expected to grant permission for the same, but at present, Uttarakhand remains the sole local supplier.

The hemp business blossomed during COVID 19 lockdown. There are about 100 hemp start-ups in India. The recent FSSAI notification will definitely provide a boost to the industry.

Uttarakhand: The only Indian state as of now with legalised hemp farming READ MORE

 

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