Mold & Bacteria Consulting Laboratories (MBL) is highly specialized in the identification of mold and bacteria. Our microbiologists are highly experienced and hold masters or doctorate degrees in microbiology. MBL is licensed by Health Canada to provide Cannabis testing services to licensed producers, personal growers and medical users.
Cannabis Microbial Analysis
Like any other plant product, Cannabis is subject to attack by a wide range of microorganisms some of which are well known health hazards. To ensure the safety of consumers Health Canada requires every lot of Cannabis to be tested prior to being released to the consumers.
The microorganisms of concern in Cannabis may include the following:
- Bacteria resistant to low water-activity. The only organism of concern in this category is Salmonella.
- Fungal spores. Spores of certain species in the genus Aspergillus can enter the lungs, germinate, and cause invasive lung disease in susceptible individuals.
- Bacterial spores. In theory, these could pose a danger just as fungal spores might. Bacterial spores could survive on plant material or in infused edible products, and enter the lung or stomach.
- Toxins. In theory, either bacterial or fungal toxins could be present on Cannabis because of the earlier presence of high levels of toxin producing organisms.
Recommended Cannabis Microbial Tests
Currently there is no standard for microbial testing of Cannabis. In a white paper, Microbiological Safety Testing of Cannabis, Cannabis Safety Institute (2015), gave various recommendations. Some of their recommendations may contradict guidelines from various Cannabis regulatory agencies.
Cannabis Microbial Tests Conducted at MBL
It is impossible to test for every possible pathogen on a product. Therefore it makes sense for labs to test for indicator organisms.
Our Cannabis microbial testing ensures the safety of cannabis by testing for the level of various microorganisms which may be present in each sample. Health Canada has established tolerance limits for microbiological contamination in cannabis. Testing is performed by culture techniques.
• Total aerobic microbial counts (TAMC)
• Total yeast and mold counts (TYMC)
• Bile-Tolerant Gram-negative bacteria
• Escherichia coli (E. coli)
• Staphylococcus aureus
• Pseudomonas aeruginosa
• Salmonella spp
Sample Sizes Recommended for Various Tests
According to Good Production Practices for Cannabis, Health Canada recommends the following sample sizes
|Dried and Fresh Cannabis||Cannabis Oil||Discrete Units|
|Residues of Solvents||N/A||2 g or mL||10 units (or equivalent of 2g of cannabis product)|
|Microbial Contaminants||70g||70g||Equivalent of 70g of cannabis product|
|Chemical contaminants||15g||15g or mL||50 units (or equivalent of 15g of cannabis product)|
|Quantity or percentage of THC, THCA, CBD and CBDA||5g||5g||20 units (or equivalent of 5g of cannabis product)|
|Total||90g||92g||Equivalent to 92g of cannabis product (or 80units + 70g) + 20 units or 24 units for disintegration and dissolution respectively.|
- Cannabis Safety Institute (2015). Microbiological Safety Testing of Cannabis (white paper; authors: Mowgli Holmes, Jatin M. Vyas, William Steinbach, and John McPartland). Retrieved from https://cdn.technologynetworks.com/tn/Resources/pdf/microbiological-safety-testing-of-cannabis.pdf
- Health Canada (2019). Good Production Practices Guide for Cannabis. Retrieved from https://www.canada.ca/content/dam/hc-sc/documents/services/cannabis-regulations-licensed-producers/good-production-practices-guide/guidance-document/good-production-practices-guide-for-cannabis-2019-10.pdf