What Does The Food Safety Industry Need To Know About Cannabis?
Cannabis Sativa is the source of hemp and marijuana commonly known as medical or recreational cannabis. It is a plant that contains approximately five hundred different compounds, and nearly 60 compounds are cannabinoids.
Of the many cannabinoids, nearly a delta-9 strain of tetrahydrocannabinol or THC in higher concentration is known to have a psychoactive influence on brain sensory stimulation and often is cited as the reason for the euphoria or non-attachment is person experiences when it is consumed. Marijuana is not completely legal in all the states of the US and is allowed in restrictive limits for adult consumption in all of Canada since the modifications to the regulations after the ban in recent years.
Hemp is a strain of cannabis with significantly low levels of THC and is classified as hemp only if the concentration of the psychoactive compound THC and in some cases total THC and THCA are less than 0.3% on a dry weight basis.
This threshold limit is very important to be followed and initiates the necessity for cannabis testing services to establish a standard for the brand and the product.
Complex nature of cannabis
Cannabis is known to be a complex plant that can have good and bad traits in equivalent measure and often oppose each other. The THC in the plants leads to psychotic effects on sensory stimulations of the brain where a person exposed to higher doses of the compound experiences a light, euphoric feeling. Research also shows that low or nil levels of THC with active CBD help in managing excruciating pain and are often used for cancer and epilepsy patients to alleviate their symptoms.
To ensure the potency of the cannabinoid that is ingested in form of hemp and CBD products like gummies, salad dressing oils, super seeds, and immunity booster powder, does not have the potential presence of THC traces beyond the permissible limit, it is necessary to get the samples tested from a reputed third-party lab that is experienced in handling plant-based food sources with difficult chemical structures using desirable methods for cannabis extraction and analysis.
Currently, CBD and edible cannabis products are not passing through any safety audit. But this situation will reverse sooner than expected with few cases that have been reported about people who responded adversely after using edible cannabis in the form of food or capsules like gummies. Everyone who uses edible cannabis will not react with acute episodes. However, a clear picture of why a patient reacted after eating hemp or CBD stuff needs to be clear, to avoid future repeats with any other person.
This is the reason anyone who is getting into processing, manufacturing, marketing, selling, or buying edible cannabis, hemp, or CBD products needs to know the following points, to safeguard and prepare themselves:
Product stability testing is as important as analytical testing to rule out unsafe contaminations. The lab needs to follow ISO 17025 standards for testing where everything is documented explaining the method used in the extraction of the cannabinoid, and the analytical method used. The raw materials used while testing are important, specifically solvents and other acids with measurement specifications. State regulators are insisting on an expiration date on any product that is for human and veterinary consumption through direct on indirect ingestion into the body.
The documentation related to the testing needs to be maintained for five years. It needs to include all the digital and physical paper trails recording the details of the stages of the life cycle of the product. Stuff related to where the seeds have been sourced from, how they were stored, the temperature recorded during quality checks, and the method of storing are recorded in the documentation.
Any plant-based product is prone to contamination from two main factors
- Microbial action
- Residual pesticides and chemicals
The handling and storage of plant material from farm to fork is a tedious process. Nevertheless, this process is crucial to maintaining high standards of quality and safe handling to avoid microbial growth like molds, yeasts, fungi, and possible sources of bacteria like E Coli and salmonella strains.
All the food contact surfaces including warehouses and vehicles need to be temperature controlled to avoid humidity increase and produce the apt environment for the breeding of mold, fungal, and yeast growth. The microbes produce aflatoxins that can have a severe impact on the health of the person who consumes the spoiled product. Aflatoxins are known to cause serious illnesses such as liver cancer. Appropriate measures using heat and chemicals have to be used to sanitize everything.
Residual pesticides and chemicals
Harmful chemicals like mercury, cadmium, and barium are found in plants as they are absorbed from the root system. Likewise, there are a few chemicals that are used to keep microbial and pest attacks in check.
Pests like rodents, and insects that damage any food storage facility is one of the biggest menaces of the food processing industry. However, the residual chemicals are harmful and not safe for humans, livestock, and pet animals that use CBD products.
All the chemicals that are used in sanitation facilities need to be labeled and kept separately. Although it is necessary to use only food-grade chemicals in processing units, it is also required to monitor the levels, especially in cleaning tanks where residual matter can deposit over time.
Every person involved in the edible hemp products industry has to follow the food chemical codex monograms for hemp products will help determine the quality and the purity of the food ingredients used in making the food product. But apart from grasping the composition, it is necessary to check the safety for consumption and durability with possible shelf life.
These factors are imperative to establish goodwill and build on brand equity for the future. With hemp and CBD, edible products demand increasing from patients one needs to also be cognizant that the end users are the most vulnerable population who are seeking relief and problems after using hemp products.