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AF yogurt ban prompts Chobani to remove hemp seeds

Aug. 27, 2013 - 08:41PM   |  
Yogurt maker Chobani plans to remove hemp seeds from its blueberry flavor. (PR NEWSWIRE)
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When the Air Force speaks, the yogurt industry listens.

Chobani announced Tuesday that it is removing hemp seeds from its Blueberry Power Flip — after the Air Force banned consumption of that flavor because of hemp seeds’ potential to skew drug testing.

“We’ve heard some concerns from the military community about Chobani products containing hemp seeds and want to set the record straight. Except for Blueberry Power Chobani Flip, no Chobani product contains hemp seeds,” said Amy Juaristi, director of public relations for Chobani, in an email. “However, we’re committed to giving our fans what they want and are in the process of removing the ingredient from our Blueberry Power Chobani Flip. We greatly respect our armed forces and take pride in serving our troops.”

Blueberry Power Flip currently comes with a side of walnuts, hemp seeds and chia that yogurt aficionados can “flip” to mix in, according to the Chobani website.

“The Air Force has not restricted military members from consuming Chobani Greek yogurt; rather, only Chobani yogurt that contains hemp seed or hemp seed oil is prohibited, just as any product which contains or is derived from hemp seed or hemp seed oil is prohibited,” said Capt. Adam Koudelka, the legal adviser for the Air Force Drug Testing Laboratory at the Air Force Medical Operations Agency at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.

The regulation governing this yogurt with hemp seeds is AFI 44-120, paragraph 1.1.5, which states that “studies have shown that products made with hemp seed and hemp seed oil may contain varying levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), an active ingredient of marijuana, which is detectable under the Air Force Drug Testing Program. In order to ensure military readiness, the ingestion of products containing or products derived from hemp seed or hemp seed oil is prohibited. Failure to comply with the mandatory provisions of this paragraph by military personnel is a violation of Article 92, UCMJ.”

The news of the ban began circulating with emails from commanders last week posted to social media sites and online message boards.

A Chobani spokeswoman said it isn’t possible to confirm with certainty what effect the blueberry yogurt would have on a drug test. The blueberry flavor contains about 10 grams of hemp seeds. The THC level of the hemp seeds is less than 10 parts per million per 100 grams of hemp seeds, so the maximum amount of THC in the yogurt would be 1 part per million, Chobani spokesman Jessica DiGennaro said in an e-mail. The federal government’s threshold for failing drug tests is 50 parts of THC per billion per 100 grams.

“Based upon the research we have conducted from the published literature available, the findings suggest that hemp food consumption is not likely to meet this threshold if THC levels in hemp oil and hulled seeds are maintained below 5 and 2 parts per million respectively,” DiGennaro said.

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