Australia’s Health Minister Michelle O’Byrne has announced she will support an application to allow hemp foods to be sold in Australia.
The application is being considered by Food Standards Australia New Zealand, to allow the sale of foods made from hemp seeds and hemp oil.
Ms O’Byrne said she would support the application on the basis of the health benefits associated with hemp foods and the fact they do not have a drug-like effect.
Hobart naturopath Liila Hass said hemp foods could help improve brain health, hormonal balance and reduce the risk of heart problems.
“They’re full of protein and carry the important omega 3, 6, and 9 fatty acids,” she said.
“It’s hard to get omega 9 in foods. Hemp is one of the few foods that actually have omega 9. They’ve also got eight amino acids and loads of vitamins, minerals, fibre and carbohydrates.”
Ms Hass imports hemp seed from Canada to add to foods for her family, including salads, rice dishes and cereals.
“It’s got a kind of sweet nutty flavour and it’s slightly crunchy, so it’s got a nice texture,” she said.
“Most people would like the taste, definitely.”
Ms Hass said hemp products would initially battle a hippie connotation, but predicted they would eventually be sold in mainstream supermarkets.
Hemp products including snack bars, pasta, bread, pesto, sauces, salad dressings and chocolate are widely available in New Zealand, Canada and the US, despite the fact it’s illegal to grow hemp in America.
Tasmanian hemp grower Philip Reader said approving the sale of hemp foods would lead to some deregulation in the industry, opening new markets for growers.
“It will take some of the impediments out of licensing, which will make it easier to grow and we’ll be able to sell it to whoever we want to sell it to,” he said.
Mr Reader, president of the Industrial Hemp Association of Tasmania, said growers were turning down business because they weren’t legally able to supply their product.
“We’ve had requests from the racing pigeon industry inquiring about the meal, for use overseas,” he said. “We’ve had inquiries from airlines looking to use the fibre in airline seats because it’s such a strong, lightweight fibre.”
Mr Reader said the horse racing industry was interested in using hemp by-products for bedding in stables, because it’s more absorbent than straw.
The food standards authority is seeking public comment for the application to allow the sale of hemp food products. Source.