Coliform Bacteria Testing for Cannabis Safety and Quality

Learn about Coliform bacteria and how testing can improve the safety and quality of cannabis products for consumers.

Coliform Bacteria Testing for Cannabis Safety and Quality

A large group of bacteria, coliforms are naturally present on the skin, the digestive tracts, and in the waste of humans and other warm-blooded animals. Coliforms are also present in plant and soil material, vegetation, water, and are also common in cannabis cultivation facilities and cannabis operational facilities. Microscopic in size, coliforms are, well… everywhere. Coliforms can be an indication of greater health risks. Knowing the risks and mitigating throughout your supply chain will improve product quality and safety while protecting your brand and consumers.

Coliforms are a tool and indicator of aerobic bacterial populations in a sample. High coliforms levels may indicate unsanitary conditions or inadequate hygiene practices throughout cultivation, production, and supply chain. In many industries, such as food, coliform presence identifies the sanitary quality and adherence to good manufacturing practices (GMP). Where applied, this is also seen in the cannabis industry. Coliform testing is not required as a compliance test in cannabis regulations in many states. This may lead to the risks of potentially high levels of coliform bacteria existing unchecked become greater and leading to larger challenges and negative impacts to the industry and the consumer. The presence of coliforms may also reflect the presence of other pathogenic increasing the risk factor to consumers and decreasing overall product quality.

The most common symptoms of coliform consumption are general flu-like symptoms such as fever, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and other gastrointestinal upset. The symptoms may be exaggerated further within the immunocompromised and the elderly.

Specific types of coliform bacteria, such as E. coli, are frequently tested adjacent to total coliform. Testing coliforms and E. coli throughout the supply chain and with compliance testing further ensures product quality and safety for human.

Proactively implementing sanitation practices while assessing and mitigating risks in your environment may improve the quality and safety of your cannabis and cannabis products. Testing for Coliform bacteria throughout the supply chain combined with local compliance testing regulations, will ensure those lower Coliform bacteria levels for product quality, consumer safety, and brand protection.