The Cold Press Conundrum...
A look at all the hype both positive and negative
There's an ill wind about, and it's something that needs to be addressed - Cold press hemp oils, love them or hate them, they're causing a stir!
In fact, they've done more than that, there's a few industry voices who have recently expressed opinions about cold press hemp oil products, that shall we say, were less than flattering.
Some say that hemp oil producers shouldn't be able to advertise a cannabinoid content, others say the products are weak in CBD, but at the same time have enough THC and other controlled cannabinoids in to breach the Misuse of Drugs Regulations (MoDR). There's also a very unexpected participant in this discussion, which only exists because politicians and civil servants are trying to separate cannabinoids from that which they're naturally sourced from, the cannabis plant.
But before I get into that
To be perfectly frank, I think that there are other pressing issues that the CBD industry could be focusing on right now, but I see this as having the potential to become a hot topic. So with that in mind, I'm going to attempt to bridge this divide, by giving clarity on the issues most mentioned in regards to cold press hemp oil.
So, lets go through those bones of contention.
Advertising a cannabinoid content
This is arguably the biggest grumble, with one suggestion stating that this practice was like "kicking a hornets nest in the industry"...
To understand the comment, you've got to understand the dynamic, and further understand that Novel Foods regulations has created this mess in the first place. It's plant vs plant based compound, the separation of cannabis and cannabinoid, which is almost as crazy as it sounds.
It's nudged over that 'crazy line' when you add cold press hemp oil to the mix, and the hornets nest if you will, being the fact that companies are allowed to advertise a cannabinoid content for those products.
To break it down even further - it's cost companies a lot of money to register CBD products that are derived from hemp, so how come 'Joe Blogg's - Cold Press Hemp Oil' down the road is selling a product with an advertised 300mg of CBD and CBDa in but doesn't have to be part of the Novel Foods process?
I'm going to explain why by comparing this situation with the humble fishfinger!
Remember when one of the UK's favourite sandwich fillers all of a sudden had Omega oils in? I'm pretty certain that it was after 1996, that it wasn't added, and that there were Omega oil supplement manufacturers at that time. Did you see those supplement producers say "It's getting around the rules, they should be subject to Novel Foods!"?
The reason why Captain BirdsEye and others didn't have to bother with Novel Foods is because Omega oils, as with cannabinoids, are known to be naturally occurring at the source, have nutritional benefit, and informing the consumer is nothing more than displaying nutritional information. They're not Omega fingers, they're fishfingers which naturally contain Omega oils.
They've also been on sale in the UK since 1955, and since 1953 in the US as fish sticks, so they predate the Novel Foods 1996 deadline.
The FSA have stated that cold press hemp oil is Novel Exempt, and with how I've explained the above, I can get why there are grumbles in the industry, but I don't think it's a side-stepping of Novel Foods as one article has recently stated. Well, it is, but it is by following the rules and distinctions that have been laid out by the FSA as a result of a proven history of consumption of cold press hemp oil. So if someone thinks that's not playing fair, I would say that they're mistaken.
This to me is no different to when some companies discovered they could make certain food based health claims by selling products with recognised health benefits whilst providing an extra tag of having CBD added to them. I was actually on the frontline for that one so to speak, back in 2019, explaining to companies why a Vitamin B12 supplement with CBD was allowed to to have a level of associated claims, where as a CBD product with Vitamin B12 would struggle for the same luxury.
We know that cannabis is Novel Exempt, so there's nothing wrong with a hemp oil full stop, and you have to be able to verify the source of the oil. We know that cannabinoids are nutritional, and feed our Endo-Cannabinoid Systems.
So lets have a look at labelling guidelines - there's normally 2 ingredients to a hemp oil, hemp, and an oil that helps capture the goodness of the plant through the cold pressing process. The quantities of those ingredients need to be reflected in the labelling, so that the consumer can determine whether the product is suitable for their needs.
So the question is - Considering that there are a few approved hemps strains that are used to create oils, how else do you think the strength of a hemp oil can be reflected other than showing a cannabinoid content?
You can sense the frustration
But that's all that it should be, the FSA stated very clearly in 2020 that 'Cold press hemp, and derivatives, are Novel Exempt', so I don't think it's fair on the companies who have been focused on cold pressed products to get the bad press they're receiving right now.
Or is it?
There is a further argument that goes beyond displaying nutritional information, and that comes from taking the FSA's wording as given, specifically "and derivatives".
In this sense, we would be referring to derivatives of vegetable processing (cold press), which is a vague term in itself. So is it reasonable to assume that you could create a CBD oil that is derived from cold press hemp, and argue effectively through an Article 4 Submission or judicial review that the Novel Exemption still stands?
If that thought has legs in it, I can completely understand why some would be speaking out against cold press products, but that's by the by.
These products should come with nutritional data, in fact it's a legal requirement to a point, and just like Captain BirdsEye, these products shouldn't have to hide that information to appease those who have paid a lot of money on CBD Novel Foods, most of whom decided in 2020 that cold press hemp products weren't worth the hassle anyway.
And that's the truth of the matter!
There's a few voices making themselves known, and it's right across the spectrum. Companies and associations have had their say, as you would expect, and they obviously have a right to express those concerns if they're protecting their interests. To that point, I won't question their comments directly whilst naming who said what. This isn't that kind of debate, and I'm hoping that it stays that way.
Besides, there is that one comment relating to hornets nests, which I partly agree with, but then I feel that it's not the hemp oil producers that are kicking it about in the CBD industry.
That being said, Broughton, a laboratory service provider, has recently posted an article on this matter. I invite you to read it, although as an early spoiler, it's far from complimentary about cold press hemp products. The question is 'why?', they're a lab, they don't seem to have any products on the FSA's public list, so who benefits from their article?
It's a good question, especially as they seem to be quite active recently when it comes to their opinions for a cannabinoid based market, and because I find it curious that a lab would release an article like this on cold press products, which could put off potential customers down the line who make products of that nature.
Maybe that's a question for a different article!
But their cold press article does highlight some of the issues that are being claimed by the anti-cold press brigade, to which they have an unexpected member amongst their ranks in Broughton.
Their concerns are what I'm breaking down here, and by 'their' I mean the collective concerns that have emerged.
This seems to be the next go to point, but it's also one that doesn't come with much clarity, and if anything sows confusion.
How can you compare ice cream to sorbet? Quality is gauged in many ways, so when people say cold press hemp comes with waxes and lipids, others would argue that those products are in fact wholeplant in nature, which is something that a lot of CBD products on the FSA's public list can't quite promote.
Others could claim that cold pressed hemp oil has more potential towards the entourage effect, and that they are the only products that are truly full spectrum in nature.
Personally, I used to make cottage cheese, sometimes up to 4,000 litres at a time. I also used to sell cheese on a Deli counter, so I know I have to step Caerphilly if I was ever to try and compare Canadian Mature Cheddar (very nice, creamy not sharp, and works well for cheese on toast) to a St Auger (not so good for cheese on toast, and blue)!
So what about CBD products collectively via extraction method: CO2, Alcohol and Sonication? Well you can't compare the quality dynamics of products made with these processes to a cold press hemp oil, they are completely different entities after all. Trying to do so would be akin to using 16 lab reports from a pharmaceutic CBD isolate to define the requirements for all CBD food supplemental products through Novel Foods, and you know how well that one is going for the industry as a whole!
A CBD oil could be defined as a refined product, where as a cold press hemp oil could be described as crude. Both have separate markers to indicate what is and isn't a quality product... it's apples and pears!
"It's not a quality product because you can't get the strength!", that's another claim that's doing the rounds!
There are 5 companies listed as members of The Hemp Hound Agency who all work with cold press hemp oil. Between them, oils are available with up to 1000mg (10%) of CBD per per 10ml bottle. All of them have confirmation from the FSA and Trading Standards that their products are legitimate, and are Novel Exempt.
Most importantly, all of them can provide evidence to show their products are compliant, and that the profile of the processed hemp strain is reflected in the finished product, showing that nothing has been added or taken away.
The intriguing part of this claim is that it's being made by some people who as late as 2020, were told, by me, about how valid a product hemp oil was, and that you had a right to display nutritional information. Some of them struggled with the concept of cold press hemp bud being Novel Exempt, and were absolutely focused on seed oil in that context, with the thought that no true marketable cannabinoid content could be obtained from that source and process alone.
No matter how hard I tried in 2020, very few of those I talked to looked into cold press hemp oil seriously, although there is one person on The Hemp Hound Directory that I did help, and I'm glad to say that we found another 4 companies from there. I'm aware of a few other companies beyond that, but considering we're talking about hornets nests in the industry, there's obviously more than a handful of companies past that who're all selling cannabinoid rich cold press hemp oil that I've yet to come across.
The intention of this article isn't a big fat 'told you so' to some of these recent opinions, it's more as a call for calm to all. Making one off suggestions to tarnish the reputation of a side-industry which obviously existed before CBD came about could backfire on you if you've no evidence to back up your claims, so feel free to analyse everything I've written here, and then maybe we can talk about these points in a webinar where others can ask questions as well.
That's an open invitation by the way, The Hemp Hound Agency will happily set the webinar up, and ensure that 2 specialist in cold press hemp oil production will attend. Both are recognised by the FSA, and one is licensed by the Home Office for on site extraction through mobile units.
Cannabis vs cannabinoid - again, this mess is all down to Novel Foods, but those who create cold press hemp oil products haven't broken any rules!
This is a weird bone of contention, which I believe to be on shaky ground. See there's no less reason for someone making cold press hemp oil to verify the safety of their products than those who make CBD oils.
Simply put, I think this concern is being wildly thrown out without any true thought into the allegation. See I can got to nearly every CBD company right now and struggle to find anything other than a cannabinoid report, but I'm not going to call them out for not displaying microbial, fungicidal, pesticidal and heavy metals tests, because I'm pretty certain I could make contact and ask if there's any chance of seeing those other reports, and the same would be the case for the majority of hemp oil producers.
If they don't have those reports, I would consider contacting Trading Standards, but I wouldn't start jumping about publicly as a result proclaiming that all companies who sell cold press hemp oil could have contaminated products, because that would be absurd!
My apologies for being so blunt, but this situation outside of cold press hemp oil has existed in the industry since before I even got involved.
Identify a competitor, question the quality of their products!
It's so effective as a tactic, GW Pharmaceuticals did the same under the guise of Novel Foods. The kickback here is that even now, CBD companies are expressing their concerns about sub-standard products in the CBD food supplemental industry, even though the only companies who can get their products out there are included on the FSA public list for CBD products, and should have all the lab reports to verify their position on that list.
I wonder if those who make these claims against cold press products should be name and shame, or retract their comments
Controlled Cannabinoids vs the lack of actual CBD
This comes back to the strength issue, and I'm certain that people haven't thought this one through either. See some think that cold press products has little or no CBD in, but at the same time, they will more than likely breach the 1mg rule, aka the Misuse of Drug Regulation 2001 Sect 2.
Now I don't know about you, but I'm certain that if you can get one cannabinoid from plant matter, you can get most of the others as well. So if you are doing a low level extraction of sorts, and you have more THC than CBD, that's not hemp you're extracting from!
Then there is the fact that a cold press method will only extract a profile that's relative to the source, so if that extraction was from any approved hemp strain and does breach the 1mg, there's a 100% chance that there will be CBD present in that final product regardless of whether it's legal or not.
I'm not buying this grumble, it doesn't look right, and it smells funny. See I don't understand why anyone would focus on products that 'may' breach the 1mg rule, when there's 3 companies that all have validated products that 'do' breach the 1mg rule, and one of them by 194 times the permitted levels.
Honestly, and I will be mentioning this to anyone I see from here playing the controlled cannabinoid card, but you're focusing on the wrong companies!
The downside of cold press...
I feel that some in the industry are voicing concerns because they believe that they have missed an opportunity, but I promised an article that looked at the Pro's and Con's, so here you go.
Have you noticed how many companies there are who have Novel Exempt products with a validated Article 4 Submission? If you haven't, let me just tell you that the number is between zero and zero!
For those who don't know what an Article 4 Submission is, you can submit a document showing a proven history of use (pre-1996) and process that is used to create a food you wish to enter into the markets, and if accepted, you're added to a list that indicates you don't have to go through some sort of Novel Foods process to sell your products legitimately in the UK.
Everyone who has asked about Article 4's for cold press hemp oil products has been told in email by the FSA that it isn't necessary to apply, because they are acceptable products. The problem there is that 2 mushroom products have been awarded Article 4's recently, so if they are worthy of that confirmation, why aren't cold press hemp oil products?
This is quite worrying, it's like a suspicious door has been left open in the room for some reason. It's also frustrating, because those cold press hemp oils will struggle to make any headway on getting in with big retailers as a result.
At the end of the day, hemp oil and CBD oil manufacturers are both getting a rough time. We're talking products that are Novel Exempt but aren't being recognised officially by the FSA, versus CBD products that are recognised by the FSA, but are in a lengthy process that's hitting every listed company that is down as 'Awaiting evidence'.
I understand why CBD companies have their nose out of joint, I really do, but turning on the cold press hemp oil producers does not help this industry. Know who your true enemy is, they're the ones who set the rules, and the ones who have separated cannabis and cannabinoids. They're also the ones I've lodged a very serious complaint about recently, to which some of the aspects relate back to this very matter!
And that's why those who produce cannabinoid rich cold pressed hemp oil shouldn't be viewed as a threat by companies who have registered CBD products that are listed by the FSA!
Rest assured that refined CBD oils will dominate the industry, and cold press hemp oil will be a bit part player, but there's space in the industry for everyone.
And if you REALLY are focused on companies who have breached compliance guidelines OR have bent the rules, lets talk about the Public Interest Disclosure I launched a few weeks ago in regards to the FSA's handling of Novel Foods!