Dear Members of the EIHA,
Among different policies that EIHA is currently monitoring there is one which is urgent and deserve a clear regulatory framework at EU level: hemp extracts (among other there is the molecule of Cannabidiol – CBD).
The hemp extracts business, has grown with considerably speed over the last years. Unfortunately, on the 20th of January 2019, a major changes have occurred regarding the use of CBD in the Novel Food Catalogue. The NF Catalogue is a not biding document for Member States but it gives a general orientation for food operators and member states.
As far as EIHA information, during the last PAFF Standing Committee (where Member states meet in Brussels), few Member States (Austria and Spain), asked the Commission for more clarity about CBD legislations. Commission’s reply has been the introduction of a completely “new entry” in the EU Food Catalogue. To be clear, with the new wording leafs and flowers are considered Novel Food, which is, for misguided reasons, in contrast with the Commission’s position adopted in 1998.
Moreover, according to the Regulation (EC) 258/97 foods containing parts of the hemp plant do not fall under the scope of this Regulation. This assumption brings us to the evidence that foods containing parts of the hemp plant are not Novel Food.
EIHA will go against these assumptions and try to get the previous wording in the NF Catalogue which excluded leaves and flowers for being Novel.
What strikes EIHA the most is the Commission’s change of mind. Back in 1998 the Commission agreed that parts of the hemp plant (including leaves for all kind of products) where used and marketed as food in the European Union to a relevant degree before 1997 (therefore not considered Novel in food).
EIHA clearly states that this former decision can not be revoked and that further discussion with Member States are needed– simply because if parts of the hemp plant where on the market before 1997 and considered as food, this does not change 20 years later.
This hardened attitude will negatively affect the market. It will interrupt consumers supplies’, it will have a negative economic impact on the sector which is largely composed by SMEs, it will forces companies to apply for authorisations which are costly in term of money (250.000 /300.000 euro) and time (nearly two years).
This change will end up being detrimental to the European operators but in favour of other countries which apply clear regulatory framework to stabilise market and foster investments, countries such as US, Switzerland, Canada.
Moreover, consumers demands’ of CBD products have increased exponentially in the last years, and because regulations don’t follow market orientations’, EIHA members have noticed a proliferation on the grey market of products which are not manufactured and traded according to food safety standards and labelling regulations. These products are currently sold in an uncontrolled way misleading and potentially harming consumers’ health. By adopting this “new entry” the Commission missed a chance to regulate the market with professional, quality-oriented players and strengthened the unofficial sales (online) channels.
Furthermore, uncontrolled trades and products, reflect a negative image on a fledgling sector and on consumers who trust our products and share our objectives. A sector which is economically performing well, which is increasingly creating jobs in rural areas. A crop that, among other possibilities, could help Europe in fighting climate change, reducing CO2 emissions and improving people’s health.
Therefore the situation in Europe is not clear and is under discussion. EIHA will present its position (leaves and flowers are not NOVEL FOOD) at the next Member states meeting in Brussels on the 12th of March.
We will keep you posted.
(Managing Director of the EIHA)
Dear Members of the EIHA,