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Low THC Hemp foods

This page provides information about hemp seed foods to consumers and the food industry.

The sale of hemp seed foods was prohibited in Australia until 12 November 2017, when amendments to the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (Food Standards Code) legally permitted their retail sale subject to a number of requirements.

What are hemp seed foods?

Hemp seed foods include hulled hemp seed, and foods made from hemp seed such as oil, beverages, flour and protein powder. Like nuts and other seeds, hemp seed foods are good sources of a number of nutrients including protein, dietary fibre and polyunsaturated (particularly omega-3) fats.

Hemp seed foods, marijuana and medicinal cannabis are all produced from the Cannabis sativa plant. The leaves and flowering heads of some varieties of Cannabis sativa produce high levels of the psychoactive chemical, delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and these plants are used to produce marijuana – an illegal drug. Other Cannabis sativa varieties contain very low levels of THC and are used to produce hemp fibre and hemp seed which do not have any psychoactive properties.

Legal hemp seed foods

The different types of hemp seed food that are permitted include:

  • Hulled hemp seed
    • also termed ‘hemp hearts’
    • may be consumed as-is, sprinkled on, or included in, salads and baked goods.
    • must be non-viable and hulled 1
    • maximum total THC: 5 mg/kg 1
    • maximum CBD: 75 mg/kg 2
    • extracted by pressing whole seeds or hulled seeds
    • is generally unsuitable as a cooking oil
    • may be used as an ingredient in salad dressings or as a drizzle
    • maximum total THC: 10 mg/kg 3
    • maximum CBD: 75 mg/kg 2
    • filtered extract made from hemp seeds blended or ground in water
    • may be sold as a dairy substitute
    • maximum total THC: 0.2 mg/kg 4
    • maximum CBD: 75 mg/kg 2
    • also called ‘seed cake’
    • is the solid product remaining after seeds are pressed to extract oil, and is milled to a powder
    • may be used as a (gluten free, vegan, plant-based) protein and amino acid fortifier ingredient in smoothies, baked goods and other foods
    • maximum total THC: 5 mg/kg 5
    • maximum CBD: 75 mg/kg 2
    1. Food Standards Code, subsection 1.4.4—6(1)
    2. Food Standards Code, section 1.4.4—8
    3. Food Standards Code, subsection 1.4.4—6(2)(a)
    4. Food Standards Code, subsection 1.4.4—6(2)(b)
    5. Food Standards Code, subsection 1.4.4—6(2)(c)

    Hemp seed foods and the Food Standards Code

    The plant

    Hemp seed foods may only be legally sourced from low THC Cannabis sativa plants. Cannabis sativa is considered to be low THC if the leaves and flowering heads do not contain more than 1% THC 1 . All other species of Cannabis plants are prohibited in food 2 .

    Only foods made from low THC hemp seeds may be sold legally. This means that the sale of food made from the leaves, flowers, buds, stems, or any other part of the Cannabis sativa plant is prohibited. Seeds for retail sale must be hulled and unable to germinate, although viable unhulled seeds may be used in the production of hemp seed foods 1 , for example, crushed to produce hemp seed oil.

    1. Food Standards Code, section 1.4.4—6
    2. Food Standards Code, subsections 1.1.1—10(5)(a) and 1.1.1—10(6)(e); Schedule 23—2

    The amount of THC which is permitted in hemp seed foods is provided in section 1.4.4—6 in the Food Standards Code. These limits are expressed in terms of total THC (mg/kg), which is the combined amount of THC and its acid form, delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THC-A). Both chemical forms are considered because non-psychoactive THC-A is converted to psychoactive THC at high temperatures, for example, during cooking.

    The hulled seeds of low THC Cannabis sativa must not contain more than 5 mg/kg of total THC. Maximum levels of total THC for other hemp seed foods are 10 mg/kg in oil, 0.2 mg/kg in a beverage, and 5 mg/kg for any other product derived from seeds of low THC Cannabis sativa. These other products include hemp flour and hemp protein powder (See Legal hemp seed foods). Hemp seed foods may be used as ingredients in foods containing non-hemp ingredients. Provided total THC levels in all hemp seed food ingredients comply with the maximum permitted levels of total THC, the total THC level in the final food will also be compliant. It is the responsibility of the manufacturer to ensure that low THC hemp seeds or hemp seed products that comply with the Food Standards Code are used in the manufacture of hemp seed foods, for example, by only sourcing certified or quality assured products.

    Cannabidiol (CBD)

    THC and CBD belong to a class of compounds called cannabinoids. Cannabis sativa plants contain over one hundred cannabinoids, although most are found in trace amounts. Unlike THC, CBD does not appear to have any psychoactive effects and in recent times has been of interest for its potential therapeutic properties.

    Only the very low levels of cannabinoids naturally present in or on seeds are allowed in hemp seed foods 1 . This restriction prohibits the fortification of hemp seed foods with cannabinoids, and ensures that rigorous cleaning methods are used to reduce any cannabinoid contamination of seeds.

    The level of CBD in food for sale must not exceed 75 mg/kg 2 . This limit was put in place to distinguish hemp seed food from some medicinal cannabis products.

    Oils with a high CBD content (CBD oil, CBD hemp oil, and cannabis oil) which are extracted from the flowers, leaves and stalks of Cannabis sativa, cannot be sold as food because of the requirement that hemp seed foods be derived only from seeds 3 .

    1. Food Standards Code, clauses 1.4.4—6(1 & 3)
    2. Food Standards Code, section 1.4.4—8
    3. Food Standard Code, subsection 1.4.4—6(3)

    Labelling and marketing

    Section 1.1.4—7 in the Food Standards Code specifies the claims and representations that may be made about hemp seed foods. These requirements were introduced to prevent the marketing of low THC hemp seed foods in ways that could potentially indicate the acceptability of illicit cannabis, and to differentiate low THC hemp seed foods from medicinal cannabis.

    Hemp seed foods must not be labelled in a form which suggests that they have a psychoactive effect, and must not include:

    • an image of any part of the Cannabis sativa plant (other than the seed)
    • the words cannabis or marijuana
    • a nutrition content claim or health claim about the presence or absence of CBD, or the name or concentration of CBD 1 due to high CBD products being more appropriately regulated as medicines, and prevents the marketing of low THC hemp seed foods, which contain low levels of CBD, as a source of CBD.

    Restrictions on the claims and representations which may be made about hemp seed foods are not limited to labels but also apply to advertising. Section 1.2.1—23 states that if the Food Standards Code prohibits a label on or relating to a food including a statement, information, a design or a representation, an advertisement for that food must not include that statement, information, design or representation.

    1. Food Standards Code, subsection 1.4.4—7(3) and section 1.2.7—13

    Other legislative requirements

    It will not be an offence under the Drugs Misuse Act 1986 (Qld) for a person to be in possession of a low THC hemp seed food that complies with the Food Standards Code. However, offences in the Drugs Misuse Act 1986 enforced by the police still remain for cannabis products not regulated by the Food Standards Code, for example a food which contains high THC cannabis, such as a cannabis cookie containing cannabis resin as an ingredient.

    Specific varieties of low THC Cannabis sativa plants are currently grown to produce fibre in Queensland under licensing arrangements in Part 5B of the Drugs Misuse Act 1986. However, as of 12 November 2017, the Drugs Misuse Act 1986 did not allow the cultivation of low THC hemp seed for food in Queensland.

    Businesses in Queensland that manufacture low THC hemp seed foods (for example food oil production) require a food business licence from their local government under the Food Act 2006.

    Drug tests

    Police roadside drug tests

    Research has shown that the minute amounts of THC present in hemp seed foods will not be detected by current police oral fluid-based (saliva) roadside drug tests. Accordingly, it would be difficult for anyone who produces a positive THC test result from a police roadside drug test to successfully argue the presence of THC in their oral fluid sample was solely a result of eating low THC hemp seed foods.

    Workplace, sport and other drug testing programs

    Excessive consumption of hemp seed foods, particularly hemp seed oil, could result in THC being detected in a blood test. This should be considered by anyone who is subject to testing for illicit drugs where there is a zero tolerance for the presence of THC, such as some work and competitive sport drug testing programs. However, studies have shown that THC from low THC hemp seed foods is unlikely to be detected in urine samples analysed according to Australian Standards (AS/NZS 4308-2008) or oral fluid tests.

    More information

    If you have any further questions relating to the sale of hemp seed foods, contact your local Queensland Health Public Health Unit.

    Hulled Hemp Seed Hearts

    Hulled Hemp Seed Hearts are gorgeous green and cream colored seeds with a mild nutty flavor and a wealth of nutrition! Add to smoothies, shakes, hot cereals, salads, yogurts, baked goods and even ice cream to help keep you satisfied and boost your nutritional intake. Because they are handled in our dedicated gluten free facility, you can trust your nutty flavored seeds are free from gluten!

    Hulled hemp seeds have superior nutritional benefits,making them one of nature’s most perfect foods. Considered a complete protein, hemp seed delivers 5 grams of plant-based protein in a 2 Tbsp serving, making them a great addition to vegan and vegetarian diets. Hemp hearts are truly a super food, providing a perfect balance of plant-based protein and omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids in each serving. These fatty acids have many health benefits, including promoting heart health, lowering triglycerides, working to reduce inflammation, promoting brain health, and supporting the immune system. Low in carbohydrates, hemp seeds are ideal for those following the paleo diet or who need to be carb conscious for their health.

    With a pleasant nut-like flavor and creamy texture, our hulled hemp seeds are a nutritious and delightful addition to hot cereal and smoothies. The light flavor of hemp protein allows it to blend easily into desserts, breads, pancakes, granola bars and other baked goods. Try hemp hearts sprinkled on salads and blended into pilafs: you’ll find hemp seeds to be a delightful, nutritious enhancement to almost any dish. Find recipes for hemp seeds under the recipe tab below.

    Hemp seeds and marijuana come from the same species of plant, but different varieties and the similarities stop there. Hemp seeds do not contain THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the active substance in marijuana.

    Our hemp seeds are raw from the hemp plant and are not toasted or salted. Because of their high oil content, hemp seeds should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer to keep fresh. Buy online today! Free shipping on most orders over $59.

    To Your Good Health

    Gluten Free

    This gluten free product was handled exclusively in our dedicated gluten free facility and tested for gluten free integrity in our quality control laboratory using an ELISA Gluten Assay test.

    Kosher

    As a continued commitment to the quality of the products we make and sell, this product has been certified Kosher by OK Kosher Certification of Brooklyn, New York.

    Vegan

    All Bob’s Red Mill products are vegetarian. This product is also vegan, meaning it does not include eggs, dairy or honey.

    Paleo

    We offer many wholesome ingredients that are favored by folks who follow a paleo, primal or other grain-free diet, including nuts flours, starches, whole nuts, and seeds.

    Keto-Friendly

    This product is suitable for the high-fat, low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet. Look for this logo to find keto-friendly items like nut flours, seeds and thickeners.

    Non-GMO

    All Bob’s Red Mill products are made without the use of bioengineering, using ingredients grown from identity preserved seeds. We are committed to sourcing ingredients that are made without the use of modern biotechnology.

    Why You Should Add Hemp Seeds to Your Next Smoothie

    If you’re plant-based or are leaning into a more plant-based lifestyle, you’ve probably been asked, thought about, or researched protein. There’s a common misconception that plant-based diets do not contain enough protein.

    Well- I’m happy to say that they do totally contain enough protein, if you are eating a well-rounded diet of whole food fruits and veggies. Because, plants have protein! In fact, there are so many awesome sources of plant protein, I wanted to get into the nitty gritty of them and try to help dispel this myth.

    So today, we’re going in on HEMP SEEDS. Let’s do this!

    What is hemp?

    Hemp is a super strong, versatile plant that, before not too long ago, was illegal to grow in the US. It’s from the same family as marijuana, which is still considered in some states as a Schedule 1 narcotic. (Personally- I find this pretty crazy. The fact that cigarettes, which have been directly linked to a higher mortality rate, are legal but marijuana isn’t is just insane. But different topic for a different day.)

    Hemp grows tall, has a strong inner bark, and thin leaves. The stalks can be used to make everything from clothes to biofuel, the seeds can be ingested (hello protein!), and the flowers can be used to extract CBD.

    Is hemp cannabis?

    Yes! It’s fancy plant name is Cannabis Sativa L.

    So what’s the difference between hemp and marijuana?

    Since hemp and marijuana are from the same plant family, they are both considered Cannabis. Their differences lie in how much Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) they contain. THC is what causes the intoxication effect of weed btw.

    Hemp plants have a level of .3% or lower of THC. Anything higher than .3% is considered marijuana.

    Is hemp legal?

    Hemp is now legal in the United States.

    What is CBD?

    Cannabidiol (what we refer to as CBD) is extracted from the flower of the hemp plant. It has these phytocannabinoids that work with our endocannabinoid system to create homeostasis and an overall sense of well being.

    And I’m also freaking obsessed with it. I mentioned this in the video, but I sometimes get neck pain from working at a computer all day. When I wake up, a topical CBD is the first thing I reach for to ease the neck pain. (My favorite topical is by Blue Ridge Hemp Co btw.)

    What is hemp oil?

    Hemp oil is the oil that’s derived from cold-pressing the seeds of the hemp plant. It has a lot of different uses- everything from food to skincare products.

    What are the benefits of hemp seeds?

    They are packed with protein! Seriously, hemp seeds are an awesome source of this macronutrient because they are a complete protein. This means that they contain all 9 essential amino acids that are the building blocks of protein. Our bodies need protein to grow and develop, repair and regenerate muscles.

    Hemp seeds also contain fiber! We need fiber in our diets for healthy digestion. If you’re ever feeling bloated, it might be a sign that you haven’t been getting enough fiber. Hemp seeds contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber contains a lot of digestion-important nutrients. Insoluble fiber helps to add bulk our stool (tmi, but true) which aids overall digestion.

    Hemp seeds are also packed with minerals. When you eat them, you’re getting magnesium, which can hemp to regulate blood pressure. They also contain iron which is crucial for energy, healthy metabolism, and red blood cell function. Since hemp seeds contain non-heme iron (which is harder for our bodies to absorb compared to heme iron), you want to be partnering the hemp seeds with some type of Vitamin C to increase absorption. Good sources of Vitamin C include guava, oranges, papaya, strawberries, and red peppers.

    How do you eat hemp seeds?

    However you want! Seriously- they are so freaking versatile. You can put them in smoothies, on top of smoothies (this would be a great smoothie bowl to top with hemp seeds since it’s rich with Vitamin C), mix them into sauces or dressings, or use them to make vegan parmesan. I’ve linked up a bunch of delicious hemp seed recipes below.

    Hemp seeds are kind of incredible, because whatever you add hemp seeds to, they’ll make your dish creamier. I even love adding them to pasta sauce to increase the marinara creaminess and kick up the protein. (I’ll also pair the pasta sauce with a lentil pasta for even more protein.) Hemp milk is another awesome option for enjoying all of hemp’s benefits!

    How much should you eat?

    Start with a tablespoon and see how you feel. If you’d like to up your protein intake, up the amount to 2 tablespoons.

    Where do you buy hemp seeds?

    They’re sold at most grocery stores. Like any food you buy, you have to be a little bit of a detective and check the label. You want to look for a product that is grown organically in Canada or the US. Typically, hemp seeds coming from Canada are good quality- but always check the label to find out where the seeds are coming from. Many countries do not have regulations on farming which could mean a really poor quality product.

    Hemp Seed Recipes:

    First, I’ve picked out some of my favorite smoothies to top or blend in hemp seeds to: