Cannabis with your coffee?

New Zealand could see hemp included in its food – and it might help your health. Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has called for submissions on its assessment report for an application to allow food derived from hemp. Chief executive Steve McCutcheon says the assessment report confirmed some hemp foods were safe to eat. “[They] may provide a useful alternative dietary source of many nutrients and polyunsaturated fatty acids, particularly omega-3 fatty acids,” he says. The potential Food Standards Code amendment will permit the use of processed hemp seed products as food. This use will be subject to specified maximum levels of delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). It will not allow the sale of whole or viable hemp seeds.

Hemp is already used in other countries, including Canada, the US and Europe, in a range of foods such as health bars, salad oils, non-soy tofu and non-dairy cheeses. A cake containing marijuana landed a CentrePort, Wellington, foreman in hot water earlier this year. David Hagger was fired in September after testing positive for the drug. He blamed the test result on a cake eaten the previous day, saying he was not aware it contained cannabis. Hagger already had two written warnings over a positive drugs and alcohol and drugs test. The Employment Relations Authority last week upheld the employer’s decision.

Comments from government agencies, public health professionals, industry and the community are invited by February 1, 2012. A final assessment by FSANZ will go to the FSANZ board early next year. If the board approves a decision to amend the code, that decision will be notified to the Australia and New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council. The Ministerial Council then has 60 days either to ask FSANZ to review its decision or inform FSANZ that it does not intend to request a review.

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