CBD-infused ice cream?

19 June 2019


Unilever’s Ben & Jerry’s ice cream brand has announced plans to develop a CBD-infused ice cream if regulatory approvals allow the move. Although CBD-infused foods are currently not approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the agency held a public hearing on May 31 on products containing cannabis or cannabis-derived compounds. This hearing signals the agency’s commitment to adequately respond to this growing industry opportunity. Ben & Jerry’s, however, maintains a positive outlook on the matter.

Over 500 people attended the hearing and over 800 people registered to join the event remotely, while 100 speakers presented on the topic. “We encourage all stakeholders – presenters, attendees, and those unable to participate in today’s hearing – to submit comments to our docket on this topic, which is open until July 2, 2019,” noted Norman E. “Ned” Sharpless, MD, USFDA Acting Commissioner of Food and Drugs.

December 2018 saw the US Congress legalize hemp via the Farm Bill. The FDA, however, announced that CBD remains under government regulation and advised companies in the space not to make “illegal” claims about their launches. Once hemp was legalized, many small industry players jumped at the chance to use CBD as a marketing point and industry saw the launch of an array of CBD-infused products, from wines to personal care.

Ben & Jerry’s says that a recent National Restaurant Association survey found that three in four chefs named CBD – and cannabis-infused food – as a hot trend in 2019. The company seeks to tap into the trend and cater to its innovative launches portfolio. In the past the company has releases stand out flavors such as Half Baked and Dave Matthews Band Magic Brownies. “So it’s no surprise that we can’t wait to get into the latest food trend: cannabidiol, or CBD. We are open to bringing CBD-infused ice cream to your freezer as soon as it’s legalized at the federal level,” the company notes in a press release.

“We’re doing this for our fans,” says Ben & Jerry’s CEO Matthew McCarthy. “We’ve listened and brought them everything from Non-Dairy indulgences to on-the-go portions with our Pint Slices. We aspire to love our fans more than they love us and we want to give them what they’re looking for in a Ben & Jerry’s way.”

More than just jumping on the CBD-products bandwagon however, the company says that sustainability is high on their list. “We want to use sustainably-sourced CBD from our home state of Vermont. After all, values-led sourcing is an important part of our process when we churn up new ice cream innovations. By using high-quality, sustainably-sourced ingredients, we support our linked prosperity model, ensuring that everyone involved with making our flavors – from the cocoa farmers to the Scoop Shop scoopers – is positively impacted,” the company notes.

The company gave consumers the proverbial “first taste” of the product-to-be via their website with a promotional photo of a standard Ben & Jerry’s pint in green colors and CBD written on it.

It remains to be seen whether the US FDA will allow companies to use CBD freely in their launches or whether limitations will be set.

Published by FoodIngredientsFirst on June 6, 2019


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