cannabis recall

Avoid the Cannabis Recall: Eliminating Microbial Contaminants

by | May 16, 2024

cannabis recall
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With the potential for rescheduling on the horizon, strict federal regulation is looming. More emphasis will be placed on product quality, and issues will continue to be highlighted about contaminated products reaching consumers’ hands.

Today, in legal cannabis states, contamination outbreaks and cannabis recalls are on the rise. A recent story about the issues in California is just one example of the continuing issues the industry faces with eliminating mold, fungus, and bacteria in packaged cannabis products.

Here are a few others that have made recent headlines:

Monitoring The Effects of Contaminated Cannabis

The task of trying to police the quality and safety of packaged cannabis products is far from straightforward. Such products come in many forms and infusions that can be inhaled or ingested, including traditional cured “flower” for smoking or vaporizing; a range of concentrates, oils, and tinctures; and all manner of foods and drinks.

Making this issue even more complicated is the plant’s double role as both a recreational and a medical drug used to treat a wide range of conditions. Cannabis users include not only healthy adults but also more sensitive or vulnerable members of the population, including children and patients with cancer or HIV.

Health Risks with Mold and Fungal Contamination

The various forms of contamination found in packaged cannabis products are not merely a nuisance. It’s a real threat that can severely undermine consumer safety. Understanding its origins and consequences is essential for proactive prevention and effective decontamination.

cannabis recall
Fungus, bacteria, and other preventable contaminants can lead to a cannabis recall.

In our continued pursuit of cannabis excellence, mold, fungus, and other bacteria contamination remain formidable adversaries. Despite their stealthy invasion and ability to go dormant, which makes them difficult to detect, there are ways to eliminate them from the equation when packaged for resale.

Need For More Oversight

At the federal level in the United States, cannabis is still considered an illegal drug. As a result, neither the Food and Drug Administration nor the Environmental Protection Agency has provided any guidance on how to regulate contaminants or on which cannabis-related exposures can be considered safe. States have had to determine on their own how to protect millions of cannabis users, and they have come up with widely varying responses. The result is an uncertain and occasionally incoherent regulatory landscape.

States have become experts at taxing and controlling this industry, and public health and safety have generally been a secondary or even later down-the-line consideration. The regulation of cannabis quality differs from state to state and is constantly changing.

Therefore, it is important for all parties concerned to understand the state laws in order to protect themselves and others. State-certified labs typically use a technique called gas chromatography to determine residual solvents; at least, they can agree on that. However, there’s no consensus on microbial contamination. On top of that, states do not agree on which microbial contaminants to test for in the first place or which constitute a health risk.

The Need for Better Cannabis Quality

As the cannabis industry continues to expand due to the pending rescheduling of cannabis, I believe there will be a resurgence of the unregulated market. The unregulated cultivation of cannabis has long been associated with contamination from the use of harmful chemicals and other substances designed to increase the yields of the product.

 The hope is that with the rescheduling of cannabis and more emphasis placed on ensuring cannabis is clean and free of toxins and other contaminants in the regulated market, consumers will start to move away from unregulated products and see a reason to buy from reputable sources even if prices are slightly higher.

At the end of the day, quality cannabis needs to be produced by quality growers and not secondary, unregulated growers. Producing great cannabis is not magic; it is a skill that is developed over time through hard work. However, quality is nothing without a product that is free of contaminants.

Most commercial cannabis grown today will undergo some form of treatment during growing for mold, yeast, and other microbial pathogens, but no matter how stringent, pathogens have the ability to find their way onto processed cannabis and ultimately into the hands of consumers.

Growing legal cannabis today can be a risky business, to say the least, and it can cost growers millions of dollars if pathogens contaminate a crop. With the financial stakes being so high as the cannabis industry continues to grow and expand, the cannabis industry needs to take cues from the food industry and adopt newer, better ways to remediate cannabis harvests contaminated with pathogens.

Cannabis Recall Prevention

With an in-depth understanding of the intricacies of the pathogens that are prevalent in processed cannabis and causing havoc in more markets every day, it only makes sense to look at a proactive approach to remediation.

Today, cannabis cultivators and dispensaries are the beneficiaries of decades of technology developments for consumer safety, including those developed for food safety. With this in mind, SafetyNet is continuing to spearhead initiatives to improve sustainability practices within the cannabis industry.

It has been proven through random testing by the FDA that cannabis with dormant pathogens combined with minute amounts of moisture inside of sealed packaging that produces a warm, moist environment allows these pathogens to become active and hence create issues for consumers.

cannabis recall
Avoiding cannabis recall starts with microbial control.

It only makes sense that treating cannabis packaging products with our antimicrobial product, which is proven to keep pathogens at bay in these situations, would be an environmentally responsible move for the cannabis industry to make.

Armed with our proven Biotrexx 247 antimicrobial technology, processing facilities and packaging companies that provide products for retail sale can confidently confront and mitigate this threat, ensuring cannabis quality remains uncompromised.

The effectiveness of this antimicrobial product in inhibiting microbial growth lies in its unique electrochemical mode of action. The active ingredient in Biotrexx 247 forms a colorless, odorless, positively charged polymer that chemically bonds to the treated surface. This layer of electrically charged swords stays on the interior lining of a package for days and weeks at a time, continually fighting off contaminants.

We realize that implementing any new technology can be challenging for a business and requires strategy and planning, but the long-term benefits can be tremendous. When weighing the pros and cons of a big switch like this, retailers should keep in mind the positive impact it will have on their end products, the consumer’s experience, and, subsequently, their industry-wide reputation for delivering quality products.

Next Steps for the Cannabis Industry

Contamination in packaged products will happen despite everyone’s best efforts and a remediation option is a needed step in any quality control program. The bottom line is that no remediation method is perfect; however, taking steps toward preventing microbial contamination is the best approach.

At the end of the day, I believe we will see that technology can be a game-changer for the cannabis industry, and by taking simple steps, starting with processing and packaging, it can make a huge difference for consumers. It’s impossible to determine how technology will influence the cannabis industry in the coming years, but what is certain is that technology will continue to be an integral part of the cannabis industry’s success unless everyone embraces change and is willing to do what is best for consumers it will never work.