FASI to shine spotlight on foods containing cannabis

Bizar Male

The Food Safety authority of Ireland (FSAI) has invited the owners and managers of small food businesses to attend a free webinar addressing the legalities of selling cannabidiol (CBD), a chemical compound found in cannabis.

he 40-minute presentation at 10am on Thursday, June 24, is the next in the authority’s ‘Breakfast Bites’ series of informal online meetings, aimed at providing information on various topics of interest.

An FSAI spokesperson said the webinar would provide important information for individuals or food related business interested in, or already selling, CBD products.

“If so, you should make yourself aware of the legal situation with respect to the sale of cannabis/hemp products and synthetic cannabinoids in Ireland,” said the spokesperson.

“CBD products are on sale in many outlets in Ireland and are also marketed locally and online by private individuals. Many of the CBD products on sale in Ireland are novel foods and should not be on the market without prior novel food authorisation,” they added.

They pointed out that some of these products on sale can contain the psychotropic cannabis component tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

A controlled substance in Ireland under the Misuse of Drugs Act (1977), possession of THC is not legal without a ministerial licence. It is also considered to be a contaminant when present in food and can be unsafe to consume depending on the levels present.

It has no permitted threshold in the EU. The European Food Safety Authority established an acute reference dose of 1 microgram/kg body weight, above which the safety of ingested THC cannot be guaranteed.

Earlier this year the FSAI issued a warning about what it described as the “sinister” sale online of jelly sweets containing significant amounts of cannabis components.

It came as the authority revealed how one Irish teenager needed hospital treatment for serious side effects after consuming sweets containing cannabis oil. In that particular instance the sweets were purchased online with the packaging carrying explicit warnings to eat them cautiously as they contained significant levels of THC.

The authority pointed out that edible products containing significant levels of THC were intercepted by Gardaí and Revenue’s Customs Service.

At the time FSAI chief executive Dr Pamela Byrne said THC was a toxic contaminate that should not be added to any food.

“Sweets containing cannabis components are being sold online or by other means. They are dangerous, particularly for young people and those with prior health conditions who may consume them unwittingly. People should only ever buy food from reputable sources and be sure they check the food labels,” said Dr Byrne.

“This new development is a sinister attempt to sell narcotics in the form of sweets and those involved are obviously not concerned about the consequences of these products getting into the hands of vulnerable people like children who could consume them unwittingly to the detriment of their health,” she added.

During the June 24 FSAI chief specialist in food science and technology, Dr Pat O’Mahony, will discuss the legal situation governing the sale of cannabis/hemp products as food in the EU and specifically in Ireland.

“To help businesses and individuals comply with the complex legal requirements in this growing area of food interest, there will be an opportunity to ask Pat questions at the end of his presentation,” said the spokesperson.

For more information about the webinar and to register for it visit www.fsai.ie.

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