Microbial Testing


Total Yeast and Mold, Aerobic Bacteria, Coliforms, Enterobacter, Salmonella, E. coli

Any naturally grown product is at risk for contamination by mycotoxins and harmful organisms.

Microbiology testing includes analysis of bacteria, yeast, molds and their harmful mycotoxins.

Cannabis presents a unique challenge to scientists and regulators when it comes to microbial testing. Cannabis can be inhaled through dried plant material, from processed oils such as vapes, absorbed through ingestion of plant material or processed extractables, and absorbed through tinctures and creams. Each of the routes of entry present an inherent risk of exposure to microbial contamination and toxins associated with those microbes.

Many of the extraction procedures used to concentrate the active ingredients of the cannabis plant, reduce the risk of microbial contamination, but may not remove the toxins produced by those same microbes.

In the world of pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, food products, and water distribution, microbiology testing plays a crucial role in ensuring consumer safety. This comprehensive guide will delve into the importance of cannabis microbiology testing, the process involved, and the various types of contaminants that can be detected. At Nova, we understand the significance of thorough microbial testing and offer cutting-edge laboratory techniques to inspect cannabis samples for potential pathogens and microbial matter. Additionally, we provide environmental testing services to identify microbial contaminant areas and assist facilities in improving their processes to mitigate the presence of harmful contaminants, including fungi, insects and insect parts, bacteria, and other detrimental matter.

Before we explore the intricacies of cannabis microbiology testing, it is essential to have a solid understanding of microbiology itself. Microbiology is the scientific study of microscopic organisms, also known as microbes. These tiny life forms are single-celled and are too small to be seen with the naked eye. Microbes are omnipresent, existing in the air, soil, rock, water, and even on and inside our bodies.

Microbes have a complex role in various ecosystems, and their presence can have both positive and negative effects. Some microbes are beneficial, aiding in processes such as nutrient cycling and decomposition. However, certain microbial species can be harmful to human health, leading to infections, diseases, and other adverse effects.

Cannabis microbiology testing is of paramount importance for several reasons. First and foremost, it ensures consumer safety. Pathogens and contaminants can be present in cannabis products, posing significant health risks, especially for immunocompromised individuals who make up a substantial portion of medical cannabis users. Regulatory bodies recognize this risk and mandate testing to safeguard public health.

Regulatory compliance is another critical factor driving cannabis microbiology testing. With the increasing legalization of cannabis worldwide, the industry faces stringent regulatory requirements, including comprehensive microbiology testing. Compliance with these regulations is vital for businesses to maintain their operations and meet the expectations of consumers and regulatory authorities.

Environmental testing plays a crucial role in this process. By conducting environmental testing, we can identify microbial contaminant areas within production and processing facilities. This helps in improving the overall process for mitigating the presence of harmful contaminants, such as fungi, insects and insect parts, bacteria, and other detrimental matter. By addressing these concerns and implementing effective measures, facilities can enhance their hygiene protocols, sanitation practices, and maintain a clean and safe environment throughout the production cycle.

The stringent regulations requiring low detection levels make pesticide analysis in cannabis quite challenging. Nova Analytic Labs uses the most sensitive instruments and precise methodologies, leveraging years of experience to deliver unparalleled accuracy in cannabis pesticide testing.

The process of cannabis microbiology testing involves several important steps to ensure accurate and reliable results. Let’s explore each step in detail:

  • Sample Collection The first step in the testing process is sample collection. It is crucial to collect samples under sterile conditions to prevent any contamination that could affect the accuracy of the results. Careful attention must be given to the collection method and proper storage to preserve the integrity of the sample until it reaches the laboratory for analysis.
  • Microbial Analysis Once the samples are collected, they undergo microbial analysis. This step involves testing the samples for various types of microbes, including bacteria, fungi, and other potential contaminants. Sophisticated techniques such as culture and surface sampling, aerobic plate counts (APC), and molecular methods are employed to detect both benign and harmful microorganisms.
  • Interpreting ResultsInterpreting the results of microbial analysis can be a complex task. Skilled scientists must differentiate between harmful and benign microbes and understand their potential impact on human health. Accurate interpretation of results is crucial for making informed decisions regarding the safety and quality of cannabis products.
  • Ensuring Consistent Testing Cannabis plants naturally repel certain microbial toxins, but various stages of growth, harvest, and processing can introduce opportunities for contamination. Fungal spores and bacterial pathogens, when ingested or inhaled, can lead to severe illness and infections. Consistent and thorough microbial testing within the cannabis industry is vital to minimize the risks associated with contamination.

Microbiology testing for cannabis includes a broad-spectrum analysis to evaluate product quality. Some of the common microbes tested in cannabis are:

Bacterial contamination is a significant concern in cannabis products, as certain bacteria can cause severe illnesses, especially in vulnerable populations. Salmonella and Escherichia coli (E. coli) are examples of bacterial pathogens that can be present in raw and processed cannabis. These bacteria can pose a significant health risk, particularly to elderly individuals and those with compromised immune systems.

Thorough aerobic microbial testing is essential to detect the presence of bacterial pathogens such as Clostridium botulinum and Salmonella. These bacteria have been associated with high mortality rates among seniors, cancer patients, and individuals with HIV/AIDS. By identifying and mitigating bacterial contamination, cannabis producers can ensure the safety of their products and protect consumers’ well-being.

Mold and yeast are common contaminants found in cannabis products. High levels of yeast and mold on cannabis flowers may indicate poor drying or handling practices during cultivation and processing. It is crucial to test for various types of fungi associated with cannabis plants to ensure product quality.

Some of the fungi commonly tested for in cannabis include:

  • Sclerotinia sclerotiorum
  •  Epicoccum nigrum
  •  Cladosporium herbarum
  •  Botrytis cinerea
  •  Aspergillus fumigatus
  •  Aspergillus flavus
  •  Aspergillus niger
  •  Aspergillus terreus

By identifying the presence of these fungi, cannabis producers can take necessary measures to prevent their growth and minimize the risk of health hazards associated with fungal contamination.

In addition to microbial contaminants, cannabis products are also subject to foreign matter inspection. The presence of extraneous matter, commonly referred to as “filth,” in cannabis can pose serious health risks. Filth matter may include fecal contamination, insects, animal parts, rodent hairs, insect eggs, mites, and other harmful substances.

To detect foreign matter, advanced techniques such as UV light analysis and microscopic examination are utilized. Flotation techniques are employed to isolate microscopic filth, ensuring the identification and removal of any potential health hazards. Stringent inspection and removal of foreign matter contribute to the overall safety and quality of cannabis products.

Apart from testing cannabis samples, it is essential to identify and mitigate microbial contamination within the production and processing facilities themselves. Environmental testing plays a vital role in identifying areas of microbial contamination and helping facilities improve their processes to minimize the risk of contaminants.

Environmental testing involves assessing the presence of harmful microbes, fungi, insects, insect parts, bacteria, and other detrimental matter in the facility environment. By identifying and addressing these issues, producers can establish robust hygiene protocols, improve sanitation practices, and maintain a clean and safe environment throughout the production cycle.

Microbiological testing is a crucial aspect of ensuring the safety and quality of cannabis products. By adhering to rigorous testing guidelines and employing advanced laboratory techniques, producers can detect and mitigate microbial contaminants that pose potential health risks. Thorough microbial analysis, including the detection of bacteria, fungi, and foreign matter, allows the industry to prioritize consumer safety and regulatory compliance.

At Nova, we recognize the significance of comprehensive cannabis microbiology testing. Our cutting-edge laboratory techniques and expertise enable us to provide accurate and reliable results. By focusing on consumer safety.

Nova takes the safety of the Cannabis community very seriously.
Our tests use a highly specific and automated system to detect Total Yeast and Mold, Aerobic Bacteria, Coliforms, Enterobacter, through metabolic identification. Pathogenic strains of Salmonella and E. coli are detected with advanced PCR techniques.

Nova’s innovative microbiology test can return accurate and specific results within 3 days. This level of accuracy and efficiency is paramount to the safety of Cannabis consumers and the success of our customers.