Hemp Hearts, Protein & Seed Oil; Source: Pinterest
Despite its many uses and manifold benefits, without the proper knowledge of what hemp is used for, “will this get me high?” a query by customers will persist. Hemp is used in food, beverages, supplements and fabric. In India, under section 10 of the Indian Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act of 1985, the state governments have the power to licence cultivation of cannabis for medical and scientific purposes. Uttarakhand government has become the first state to issue a license for the cultivation of hemp to grow industrial hemp in July 2018. States like Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Arunachal Pradesh are also looking towards legalising the crop.
The successful commercialization of any industry depends on the government rules and regulations and the people who are part of it. FSSAI issued a notification on 15th November 2021, stating, “The hemp seed, hemp seed oil and hemp seed flour shall be sold as food or used as an ingredient in a food for sale subject to conforming standards.”
As Hemp seeds have entered in FSSAI, many more companies will enter the hemp space, adding to the ever-growing global hemp industry. In the coming years, many food products containing hemp seeds and hemp seed oil will enter the space and increase the availability across the food industry, giving consumers various choices of healthy foods. Believing the industry forecasts, the Hemp industry worldwide is moving towards a groundbreaking graph of potential in the next five years.
Hemp - A Superfood!
Hemp as food is a complete plant-based protein. Hemp is commonly confused with marijuana. It belongs to the same family, but the two plants are very different. Marijuana is grown to contain high amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the chemical that is responsible for its psychoactive properties. Hemp describes the edible plant seeds and only contains a trace amount of THC. Hemp seeds have a mild, nutty flavour. Hemp oil has a strong “grassy” flavour.
With the widespread movement called veganism, hemp is being used as one of the best protein substitutes for non-vegetarian products. It is allergen-free and has the perfect ratio of Omega 3 and 6 which is ideal for our health. The pandemic came as an opportunity for these entrepreneurs to market these benefits when people started looking for knowledge regarding food, nutrition, alternative curative methods and therapeutic products that would help with anxiety, pain relief and other effective solutions for the body, mind and soul.
FSSAI Recognizes Hemp!
On 15th November 2021, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India notified that hemp seeds and seed products are now recognised as a food source. Hemp oil and seeds products were among the other edible items approved as food under the name of Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Fifth Amendment Regulations, 2021.
The notification regularises hemp seeds and seed products to be:
1. Sold as food, or
2. Used as an ingredient in a food for sale.
Excerpt from the Gazette 1
A number of parameters such as the total levels of THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids along with directions for proper labeling of hemp seeds and seed products are also a part of this notification. This is a big win for the hemp industry in India. The use of hemp seeds, hemp seed oil, and hemp seed flour as a food source or ingredient can lead to ground-breaking innovations in healthy food products while generating employment opportunities for hundreds of people.
The notification issued by FSSAI also defines the levels of CBD and THC hemp seeds and seed products can have. CBD and THC are chemical compounds naturally present in the cannabis plant. They belong to the group of cannabinoids. The levels of these compounds are important because one of them is the compound that is responsible for the high people experience after consuming cannabis.
Excerpt of The Gazette 2
The excerpt of The Gazette of India issuing this notification specifies all the details and standards regarding hemp seeds and its respective products hemp seed oil and hemp seed flour. The specification includes parameters, maximum and minimum requirements and detail standards for the packaging.