Cannabis, flavor and food


Flavors originate from the natural extracts of plant material. Flavorists work side by side analytical chemists and botanists to identify and quantify the chemical components of plants so they can re-create the plant material aroma and flavor. They create flavors that help our food be more enjoyable.

When I read stories about apothecarists who gather herbs and extract the medicines, I feel a connection. There is a connection and yet skepticism between our two trades.


The flavor industry connects with and includes:

  • spice dealers
  • botanical extractors
  • essential oil manufacturers
  • chemical manufacturers
  • fountain syrup producers
  • tobacco companies
  • oral care manufactures
  • medicine manufacturers
  • seasoning companies
  • smoke producers
  • alcoholic beverage manufacturers
  • perfume manufacturers
  • cosmetic companies
  • ingredient manufacturers for the baker, confectioner, etc.
  • analytical instrumentation manufacturers

The next link is cannabis. Both flavorists and cannabis producers understand plant materials, extraction, quality analysis, as well as use in foods, medicines and cosmetics.



Experience can make you wise or it can make you a cynic. Some flavorists and companies got burned when kava-kava flavored teas came to market in the nineteen nineties. That “hot” trend ended with FDA notifying producers and the public that kava-kava was not approved for use in food.

Currently, we hear quite a bit from the media on the benefits of marijuana, hemp and CBD (cannabidol). Cannabidol is a cannabinoid derivative prevalent in the hemp plant (usually 10X more than what is found in marijuana). CBD is the “hot” trend and is touted as being able to help with almost every health problem, from anxiety to cancer.

Although some of these health claims might be true, FDA is taking action against companies claiming CBD helps with serious or life threatening diseases. FDA wants the public to seek proper treatment for serious diseases rather than rely on what could be “snake oil”. Concerns stemming from when FDA tested some products claiming to have CBD in them as a curative and found none.

Cannabis oil

New Information

FDA has taken action and issued warnings, but they have also approved that CBD can treat seizures associated with specific diseases. We also know that the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 (Farm Bill) removes hemp from the Controlled Substances Act and differentiates it from marijuana.

Hemp and Marijuana are both derivatives the Cannabis sativa species, but differ by the amount of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active in marijuana responsible for the “high”. Hemp has less than 0.3% on a dry basis and therefore is not a recreational drug.

Marijuana and hemp have different ratios of the drug components CBD and THC, but, both of these components are in the resins of the flower of the female plant (cannabis is dioecious).

Flowers that seed are a bad thing if you are producing cannabis for the drug components.

Besides CBD and THC

However, for me personally, the hemp seed is the reason I am on the bandwagon. If I thought marijuana would relieve my anxiety and without causing paranoia or if I needed anti-nausea medicine, my interest would be the drug component. One dose of my kid’s anti-nausea medicine after tumor resection was $990, so I completely understand if consumers value cannabis for anti-nausea or pain relief.

Hemp seed is a nutritional powerhouse. The hulled hemp seed contains 30% protein and 45% oil and the quality of those nutrients is amazing. Hemp protein has all essential amino acids and a Protein Digestibility Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS) of 61. In comparison, wheat PDCAAS is 40 and oats PDCAAS is 57. If you are eating a vegan diet, hemp seed should be in it.

Plus, the oils in hemp seed are healthy, primarily of linoleic and alpha-linolenic acid. These are essential fatty acids important for growth and brain development.

Better yet, FDA received GRAS notices on hulled hemp seed, hemp seed protein powder and hemp seed oil which are low in THC and have “no questions”. This means that hemp seeds are Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) for use in food and do not need to go through the lengthy food additive process.

Hemp Seed Bandwagon

Personally, I’d love to see a hemp creamer, full of ALA and not PHOs. I tried hemp milk and realized there were some flavor challenges with it. It reminded me of school paste. A bit of “magic” (sugar and vanilla extract) will solve some of the taste concerns.

FONA flavors  believes hemp seed is one of the hot food trends for 2019 and I’m hopeful to find a good hemp creamer this year and maybe a hemp seed butter.

It’s time for something new, I’m tired of hearing about drugs and ready to jump on the hemp seed for good nutrition bandwagon.

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