What is “Microbiological Contamination”?
Microbiological contamination refers to the non-intended or accidental introduction of infectious material like bacteria and fungi into a product. Cannabis can become contaminated at any time during the growing, harvest, storage, processing, distribution, handling, or preparation process. The primary sources of microbial contamination being soil, air, animal feed and by-products, plant surfaces, sewage, and food processing machinery, as well as human introduced. Independent studies have shown that ionic oxidation is effective at destroying airborne and hard surface biological contamination resulting in the ideal sanitary conditions for medical and food grade agricultural practices.
Why is Microbial Testing Important?
- Consumption of microbiological contaminants is harmful and potentially deadly for patients with compromised immune systems. It is also a mandated test in many states.
- Microbial contaminants can affect any grow or production facility without warning resulting in significant impact to product quality and potentially lost revenue.
- Consumer health and safety is paramount for all responsible producer and processor businesses, sustainable production relies on quality assurance testing.
- Yeast, mold and insects can cause various degrees of deterioration and decomposition of final product both before harvest, and during storage. This can result in substantial losses to both producer and consumer.
- Certain molds may even produce mycotoxins which can elicit allergic reactions and may even cause infections in immunocompromised individuals.
Bio-contaminants tested for include:
• Salmonella – Salmonellae are found worldwide in both cold-blooded and warm-blooded animals, and in the environment. They cause illnesses such as typhoid fever, paratyphoid fever, and food poisoning.
• Total Coliform – commonly used bacterial indicator of sanitary quality of foods and water.
• Mucor – a microbial genus of approximately 6 species of moulds commonly found in soil, digestive systems, plant surfaces, and rotten vegetable matter.
• Alternaria – A plant pathogen and allergen to humans. Exposure can cause hay fever and may evolve into asthma. Exposure can also cause infections in patients with immune system deficiencies.
• Aspergillus – One of the most deadly molds to humans. Some species have been known to produce large amounts of aflatoxin, a toxin & a carcinogen.
• Botrytis – A necrotrophic fungus that affects many plant species. It is also known as Grey Mold and Bud Rot.
• Cladosporium – A plant pathogen which can cause cannabis to reduce the size of the yield & quality. This is the group that contains the most common molds & generates no mycotoxins.
• Escherichia Coli – A gram-negative bacteria that lives in the mammalian gastrointestinal tract.
• Penicillium – Exposure can cause severe allergic reactions in patients who are sensitive to the antibiotic Penicillin.