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Hemp food hits the shelves as crop's edible products legalised in Australia, NZ

ABC Health logoABC Health 6 days ago
a close up of a plant © Provided by ABC Health

With hemp beer, hemp chocolate and hemp oil debuting over the weekend, industry is rushing to bring even more products to consumers as the product is now legal to be sold as food in Australia.

The new regulations came into effect on Sunday after the Federal Government decided low-THC hemp seeds were fit for human consumption.

Up until now, hemp has only been able to be used for industrial and clothing purposes.

In Western Australia, growers said 'cheers' to the new food industry by launching their unique product, hemp beer.

WA grower Chris Blake, who has been working in collaboration with Rocky Ridge brewer Hamish Coates, said they were extremely excited to see how the new industry and their product would be received by consumers.

"There's been a lot of positive feedback from initially speaking with people about it, so I think that definitely the doors are going to be open for us."

For Brewer Hamish Coates, the idea to combine hemp and beer initially "raised a few eyebrows".

But he said once toasted and ground, the hemp had interesting flavours of "hazelnut and sesame seed" that complimented the dark ale well.

While consumers may be familiar with the cannabis leaf logo associated with hemp clothing and building products, that will not be the case for hemp foods.

One of the restrictions in the code for hemp food growers is that packaging not use an image or representation of any part of the cannabis plant other than the seed.

It also must not use the word cannabis.

A Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) spokesperson said it was to avoid any association between hemp and cannabis, the latter with psychoactive properties.

"They wanted to set some limits or restrictions in the code, and then legislation, that would prevent it from being represented as being psychoactive."

Hemp has already been approved for food in the UK, the United States, Canada and many other countries within Europe, and for many Australian growers it has been a long wait.

Grower Lyn Stephenson, who farms just outside Kyneton in central Victoria, said this will help disband any stigma about the product and grow the industry.

"It's about creating a market for it so that farmers can grow it.

"Because it is an ecologically sustainable crop as well, because there's a deep root system and that breaks down the soil and it's sewn closely together, the leaves drop and mulch and break down into the soil. So it's a really good, rotational crop."

The Australian hemp industry is now gearing up for a huge growth in production, with many new crops going into the ground this year.

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