HomeProgressEU, hemp leaves do not qualify as 'novel food'

EU, hemp leaves do not qualify as 'novel food'

The European Commission has finally come to recognize that at least industrial hemp leaves do not qualify as novel foods. (1) Waiting for the Brussels bureaucrats – after years of twisting the rules to apply to the Cannabis Sativa L. and its derivatives (2,3) – also recognize evidence of consumption of other parts of the plant. Not only seeds and leaves, but also hemp flowers.

1) Hemp seeds, leaves and flowers, 700 years of food tradition in Italy

Seeds, leaves and flowers of hemp they have belonged to the food tradition of the Old Continent, in Italy, for at least 700 years. As evidenced by medieval, Renaissance and later recipe books (4,5,6,7).

The hemp soup for 12 people, in the recipe of Bartolomeo Sacchi known as Platina, it is prepared as follows: 'wash well a pound [327g, ed] of hemp and cook it for so long until it (separates, divides, opens). Once cooked, mix it with a pound of almonds and add a little breadcrumbs. Pound everything in a mortar, throw it into a lean broth and then pour it into a saucepan through a sieve. Then place the pan on the heat and turn it often with a spoon. Afterwards, when it is about to cook, add half a pound of sugar, a half ounce [14g, ed] of ginger, a little saffron and some water of rose. Once the soup is cooked, pour it into some bowls and sprinkle with sweet spices'. (4)

'If you want tortelli with hemp flowers [hemp, ed]

Remove these leafless hemp flowers and cook them with the belly of the pig. When it is almost cooked (put) the flowers to boil and (when) the meat is cooked, beat each one individually. Remove very fine cheese, just as much as the meat, and fine spices and make tortelli. ' (5)

2) Cannabis Sativa L., traditional foods or novel foods?

The first recognition of the traditional food consumption of parts of the Cannabis Sativa L. - by the European Commission - concerned seeds. The consumption and sale of the seeds, and of the hemp oil derived from their pressing, have in fact continued continuously over the centuries. Up to the present day, when the scientific community has recognized the values ​​of their composition, thanks to the rich endowment of proteins, Omega 3 fatty acids, dietary fibers and micronutrients. (8)

Only on June 2, 2023 the European Commission has recognized that even hemp leaves, like the seeds, qualify as traditional foods and are therefore not subject to the complex authorization procedure established by the Novel Food Regulation (EU) No 2015/2283. And he could not have done otherwise, after years of solicitations by the European association representing the supply chain Cannabis Sativa L.

3) Hemp leaves, evidence of food consumption in Europe in the twentieth century

EIHA, European Industrial Hemp Association, demonstrated with extensive evidence the dietary consumption of hemp leaves in several EU Member States prior to 15 May 1997, the date of entry into force of the first Novel Food Regulation EC No 258/97. (9) Consequently, hemp leaves must be classified as traditional foods and can be freely marketed.

Cannabis Sativa L. – as has already been noted (10) – has already been included in Community legislation since 1988 both as an 'agricultural product' and as an 'industrial product'. Its cultivation therefore benefits from the contributions provided for by the Common Agricultural Policy and should indeed be incentivized - as is already the case in the UK - due to its extraordinary CO2 sequestration capacity. (11)

4) Green light for herbal tea cut hemp leaves and flowers

The decision of the Eurocrats on hemp leaves should help prevent the repetition of the misunderstandings that have led to the unjust persecutions - perpetuated over the years and still today, in various Member States - against companies that produce and/or market herbal teas based on Cannabis Sativa L.

Legal certainty the legitimacy of the production and sale of herbal tea cut hemp leaves and flowers has already been affirmed by the EU Court of Justice, in the judgment of 19 November 2020 (case C-663/18). (12) The EU Court of Justice, please note, is the only official interpreter of EU rules. Member States and any other jurisdictional institutions must comply. (13)

Dario Dongo


(1) Clarification on legality of hemp leaves in EU should boost tea market. https://hemptoday.net/clarification-on-legality-of-hemp-leaves-in-eu-should-boost-tea-market/ Hemp today. 5.6.23

(2) Dario Dongo. CBD, edible hemp and cosmetics. 'Big Pharma' against everyoneGIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 1.5.19

(3) Dario Dongo. Hemp and CBD, the big one Chaos. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 11.11.19

(4) Bartolomeo Sacchi known as Platina. Of honest desire and worth. See note 7

(5) Bruno Laurioux. 'Le registry de cuisine de Jean Bockenheim, cuisinier du Pape Martin V', in Rome, Moyen Age, tempes Modernes, 100, 1988, pp. 709-760

(6) Recipe no. 26 in the book by O. Guerrini. Fragment of a XNUMXth century cookbook published on the day of the Carducci – Gnaccarini wedding. http://archive.org/details/frammentodiunlibOOguer (Zanichelli publisher, Bologna, 1887)

(7) Giampaolo Glenda. Hemp (Effe publisher, Perugia, 2004)

(8) Laura Pontassuglia, Dario Dongo. Superfood, hemp. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 9.3.18

(9) EIHA. Hemp leaves are traditional foods. https://hemptoday.net/wp-content/uploads/2023/06/EIHA-collection-of-evidence-leaves-202206.pdf

(10) Dario Dongo. Industrial hemp and circular economy. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 16.8.19

(11) Martha Strinati. The power of hemp to sequester carbon at the core of Hemp-30. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 10.1.23

(12) Dario Dongo. Natural CBD, the EU Court of Justice declares unjustified prohibitions illegitimate. New horizons. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 21.11.20

(13) Dario Dongo. Hemp flowers and leaves, green light in France and ItalyGIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 15.2.23

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Dario Dongo, lawyer and journalist, PhD in international food law, founder of WIISE (FARE - GIFT - Food Times) and Égalité.

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