India: Food Safety and Security Authority of India (FSSAI) Authorizes “hemp seeds, hemp seed oil and seed-based flour as food and food ingredients”

New Regulations: Key Features 

  • Only hemp seeds from plants that have less than 0.3% THC are allowed to be incorporated into food products;
  • THC content in food seeds may not exceed 5mg/kg and THC content in the oil extracted from such seeds is capped at 10mg/kg;
  • Beverages made from hemp seeds must not contain more than 0.2mg/kg THC;
  • Hemp-seed flour is defined as a “solid product after seeds are milled to a powder with or without extraction of oil.” Such products cannot exceed 5mg/kg of THC;
  • CBD levels in hemp seed or seed-based food products cannot surpass 75 mg/kg;
  • Product labels are not allowed to imply any psychoactive effects, nor include any nutrition or health claims about CBD, “any image/representation of the cannabis plant (including the leaf) other than the seeds, nor the words ‘cannabis’, ‘marijuana’ or words of similar meaning.”

The Food Safety and Security Authority of India (FSSAI) has given a green light to hemp seeds, hemp seed oil and seed-based flour as food and food ingredients, indicating the development of a huge market with some 1.4 billion consumers, reported Hemp Today.

Some of hemp seed’s benefits include minimizing the risk of heart disease, helping skin disorders, being a nutritious source of protein, helping with PMS and menopause symptoms and boosting digestion.

And while the news makes for a notable milestone in the Indian hemp industry, Nivedita Bansal Shah, co-founder and consultant on India and Nepal at Shah Hemp Inno-Ventures, points out some of the challenges.

“It’s a significant milestone for the hemp industry in India. It’s a first victory at the country level and will make way for future development,” Shah said. “But there are a number of questions that still need to be answered before we’ll see hemp seeds readily selling in the Indian market.”

One of the most important challenges is the lack of quality seeds for cultivation, according to Shah.

“The availability of planting seed, and genetics for planting seed to produce grain (hemp food seed) still needs to be developed,” she added.

So far, the new regulation allows only “hulled seeds” or seeds in the shell. This means that de-hulled seeds or hemp “nuts” are not yet allowed, even though they are popular in markets with developed hempseed-based food industries.

Furthermore, India will need to create hemp-related education to develop a much-needed understanding of the “process involved in bringing products to the market.”


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