• Open Access

Scientific Opinion on the safety of hemp (Cannabis genus) for use as animal feed


  • EFSA Panel on Additives and Products or Substances used in Animal Feed (FEEDAP)

  • Panel members: Gabriele Aquilina, Georges Bories, Paul Brantom, Andrew Chesson, Pier Sandro Cocconcelli, Joop de Knecht, Noël Albert Dierick, Mikolaj Antoni Gralak, Jürgen Gropp, Ingrid Halle, Reinhard Kroker, Lubomir Leng, Anne-Katrine Lundebye Haldorsen, Alberto Mantovani, Miklós Mézes, Derek Renshaw and Maria Saarela
  • Correspondence: feedap@efsa.europa.eu
  • Acknowledgement: The Panel wishes to thank the members of the Working Group on the Safety of Hemp as animal feed, including Carlo Nebbia, for the preparatory work on this scientific opinion.
  • Adoption date: 3 February 2011
  • Published date: 14 March 2011
  • Question number: EFSA-Q-2010-00016
  • On request from: European Commission


Four different types of feed materials derived from the hemp plant were identified: hemp seed, hemp seed meal/cake, hemp seed oil and whole hemp plant (including hemp flour). The hemp varieties allowed for cultivation in Europe need not to exceed 0.2 % THC (in dry matter; average of 2151 samples collected in Europe between 2006 and 2008: 0.075 %). Hemp seeds are practically free of THC (maximum 12 mg THC/kg). The THC lethal dose in acute toxicity studies in rats, mice and dogs is approximately 1000 times higher than the lowest doses known to reproduce typical THC-related symptoms in animals. Both the THC and metabolites with psychoactive properties may be distributed to the different tissues and organs, fat being the target tissue. They are excreted via milk; the transfer rate of oral THC to milk from dairy cows is likely 0.15 %. Studies in humans identified psychotropic effects at a LOEL of 0.04 mg THC/kg bw. By applying an uncertainty factor of 100, a PMTDI of 0.0004 mg/kg bw was derived. Since the PMTDI is based on acute pharmacological effects, the consumer exposure considered the single high consumption record derived from the EFSA Comprehensive European Food Consumption Database (P95 values of consumers only: 2 L milk equivalents for adults, 1.5 L for children). In all scenarios (varying intake of hemp plant derived feed material and milk yields), consumer exposure to THC was considerably above the PMTDI for adults and for children; applying the same exposure calculations to hemp seed-derived feed materials results were below the PMTDI. The FEEDAP Panel recommended to put whole hemp plant-derived feed materials list of materials whose placing on the market or use for animal nutritional purposes is restricted or prohibited and to introduce a maximum THC content of 10 mg/kg to hemp seed-derived feed materials.