New THC Threshold for Hemp Products

In Germany, a wide range of hemp-based food products is available. In addition to hemp seeds and the hemp oil extracted from them, various other hemp-based food products, such as teas, are offered. The latter consist partly or exclusively of hemp leaves and possibly hemp flowers. According to legal regulations, the fibrous hemp usually used for food production may contain up to 0.2 % total THC, so that THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is often found in food products made from fibrous hemp (e.g. teas).

Assessment of the BfR

On 17 February 2021, the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (Bundesinstitut für Risikobewertung, BfR) issued a statement recommending that the assessment of hemp-based food products be based on the acute reference dose of 1 microgram Δ9-THC/kg body weight derived by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in 2015. The acute reference dose indicates the estimated maximum amount of a substance that can be ingested in food over the course of a day at one meal or at several meals without an identifiable health risk. From the BfR's point of view, it should be checked for each product on a case-by-case basis whether the acute reference dose is possibly exceeded. The measured total THC concentration (sum of Δ9-THC and Δ9-THCA) and the estimated amount consumed are used for the determination. For the estimation of the respective consumption amount, among others, the following can be used as a basis:

  • Data from the "EFSA Comprehensive European Food Consumption Database",
  • Data on consumption of analogous foods that do not necessarily contain hemp (e.g. teas),
  • Legally prescribed data on recommended consumption levels (for food supplements).

Recently, UK guidance was issued on the subject. In the UK, a limit for controlled cannabinoids (including THC) of 1 mg / container applies (see also: UK Guidance on Limits for Controlled Cannabinoids in CBD Products).

The complete (German) statement of the BfR No. 006/2021 dated 17 February 2021 can be found on the BfR homepage.  

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