Escherichia coli (E. coli) is a type of coliform bacteria commonly present in the lower intestine of warm-blooded animals. It is therefore commonly found in animal feces. While most E. coli strains are harmless, some strains can cause severe diseases and diarrhoea when ingested by humans. There are also strains that produce toxins.
Why test Cannabis for Escherichia coli (E. coli)
E. coli test is commonly used as an indicator of fecal contamination and hence possible presence of other disease causing organisms. Fecal contamination during the production of Cannabis could arise with workers not properly washing their hands, or from contaminated soil or water. None of these cases would necessarily mean that the Cannabis was dangerous to use. However, it could indicate the possible presence of enteric pathogens, and it is likely to reflect a problem in the production process.
Health Canada requires Cannabis be tested for the presence of E. coli as well as other pathogenic microorganisms.