US: South Carolina warns producers to stop hemp, CBD use in feed, animal products

By Aerin Einstein-Curtis

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/chriss_ns
© GettyImages/chriss_ns

Related tags Fda Feed ingredient Regulation

Following an expansion in products for animals containing hemp or cannabidiol, the South Carolina Department of Agriculture is accelerating its surveillance activities aimed at preventing the use of unapproved ingredients in feed.

The agriculture department announced​ Friday [January 3] that animal feed manufacturers and consumers in the state should be aware that hemp and cannabidiol (CBD) are not approved ingredients for use in animal feed products in South Carolina. Commercial feed products containing hemp or CBD are illegal and the department is set to start sending warning letters to manufacturers.

A South Carolina Department of Agriculture (SCDA) spokesperson told this publication:

“We’ve noticed an uptick in animal feed products with hemp and/or CBD for sale in South Carolina over the past year or so. The boom in CBD and hemp products for humans is well documented, and we’re seeing much the same thing [in respect of animal feed products].”

All commercial animal feed products that are sold in South Carolina have to be registered with the SCDA, the department said. Products need to be renewed annually.

The process is designed to allow the department to ensure feed products are labeled correctly and only included ingredients that have been approved for use in animal feed, said the officials. 

Regulating hemp, CBD in feed

That SCDA approach is to inform first, and then sanction companies if the correct response is not forthcoming, the SCDA spokesperson said. “So, for the last year, whenever we encountered these kinds of products, we worked to educate the stores that they should not be selling them,”​ she added.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Veterinary Medicine reviews feed ingredients before they are approved for domestic “sale or distribution,”​ the SCDA added. Hemp and CBD products have yet to complete that review process.

In November 2019, the FDA sent warning letters​ to 15 companies, including businesses selling animal feed products, for illegal use of hemp and CBD ingredients.

“Based on the lack of scientific information supporting the safety of CBD in food, the FDA is also indicating today that it cannot conclude that CBD is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) among qualified experts for its use in human or animal food,”​ the agency said when it sent the warning letters.

“We remain concerned that some people wrongly think that the myriad of CBD products on the market, many of which are illegal, have been evaluated by the FDA and determined to be safe, or that trying CBD ‘can’t hurt,’”​ added Amy Abernethy, FDA principal deputy commissioner at the time. “Aside from one prescription drug approved to treat two pediatric epilepsy disorders, these products have not been approved by the FDA and we want to be clear that a number of questions remain regarding CBD’s safety – including reports of products containing contaminants, such as pesticides and heavy metals – and there are real risks that need to be considered.”

South Carolina has transitioned from an educational period to an enforcement phase and will start sending out warning letters when products containing hemp-based ingredients or CBD are found, the spokesperson said. “As a department, we’re charged with making sure animal feed offered for sale in South Carolina is safe and wholesome,”​ she added.

“The letter asks that the company reformulate its product and submit its label to SCDA for approval,” ​she said. “If we don’t get a response within 14 days, we will do a ‘stop sale’ to remove the products from the shelves.”

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