Salmonella is a group (genus) of bacteria found in the intestinal tract of human beings and warm blooded animals. They are facultative anaerobic Gram-negative rods capable of causing disease.
There are only two known species of Salmonella: Salmonella enterica, and Salmonella bongori. Salmonella enterica is an important agent of food-borne illness. It is sub-divided into 6 subspecies of which Salmonella enterica subspecies enterica is the most important for human health. In general all types of Salmonella are considered pathogenic.
Is Salmonella a Problem on Cannabis
Chances of Salmonella being present on modern well-maintained Cannabis crops are very low. It is also highly likely to be killed effectively by the temperatures of smoking or decarboxylation.
Also, being an intestinal pathogen, the real danger of Salmonella infection is always associated with ingestion of food products. For cannabis edibles to carry Salmonella that was originally present on Cannabis, the bacteria would have to survive both the extraction process and the heat of decarboxylation. It can therefore be concluded that Cannabis is no more likely than any other ingredient to serve as a source of Salmonella into a particular food product. If standard food hygiene conditions and measures are followed in kitchens producing Cannabis edibles, Salmonella infections would be insignificant.
Why Test Cannabis for Salmonella?
Salmonella is common in the environment, and can be found as a contaminant of both soil and water. There is, therefore, a possibility it could contaminate Cannabis at any point during harvesting, processing, storage, distribution, transportation and preparation. Were even small amounts to survive heat kill step, they could cause an outbreak. For instance, it is possible that Salmonella could be transferred to Cannabis-infused edibles after inadequate heating for decarboxylation. While smoked Cannabis should not pose a threat, the unheated plant material in close proximity to the mouth could lead to infection.
All of these scenarios are unlikely, but they can’t be dismissed. Properly handled material is very unlikely to pose a threat from Salmonella. However, until further evidence indicates otherwise, Cannabis testing for Salmonella is recommended.
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