IFN 15-17 – Changes to the importation of low-THC hemp seed and food containing hemp seed as an ingredient

Issued: 6 November 2017


The purpose of this notice is to advise importers and brokers about upcoming changes to the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code Standard 1.4.4 - Prohibited and restricted plants and fungi that comes into effect on 12 November 2017. 

What has changed?

From 12 November 2017, the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (the Code) will permit the sale of low-tetrahydrocannabinol (low-THC) Cannabis sativa (commonly known as hemp seed) and hemp seed foods. Details of this change are available on the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) website. From this date, low-THC hemp seed and hemp seed foods will be permitted to be imported as food for sale or for use as an ingredient subject to the restrictions listed in section 1.4.4-6 of the Standard. These restrictions include limits on the levels of THC permitted to be present in the seed and seed products.

Section 1.4.4-7 of the Standard also includes restrictions on claims and representations about foods that are, or which contain, hemp seeds. Labelling of hemp food products must not:

  • claim or imply that the product has a psychoactive effect,
  • make nutrition content or health claims about cannabidiol
  • include images of any part of the Cannabis sativa plant other than the seed,
  • include the words ‘cannabis’, ‘marijuana’ or words of similar meaning.

The word ‘hemp’ is permitted on the label.

Under the Imported Food Inspection Scheme hemp food products referred for inspection will be subject to a labelling inspection. Analytical testing for levels of THC in hemp seed and hemp seed products is also under consideration.

What importers need to do

Importers are responsible for ensuring the labelling on the food products they import is compliant with the requirements of the Code.

Importers should contact all suppliers, or put systems in place, to ensure the labelling on their food products comply with the Code prior to importing food products, or ensure labelling is compliant prior to booking an inspection. The Imported Food Control Act 1992 provides for the labelling of food products to be amended after importation and before inspection by the department.

Note: Biosecurity requirements for hemp seeds and hemp products will be changed to reflect the above. The revised import conditions will take effect on 12 November 2017. Refer to the BICON alert associated with the case Cannabis spp. for further details.

Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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