Aerobic Bacteria Testing for Cannabis Safety and Quality

Learn more about determining aerobic bacterial populations in cannabis to indicate quality, shelf-life, and consumer safety.

Aerobic Bacteria Testing for Cannabis Safety and Quality

There are multiple examples of bacteria in small amounts having little to no risk to human health and safety; in larger quantities these same organisms may pose a threat to consumer health. Aerobic bacteria are one such example. Aerobic bacteria are microorganisms that thrive on oxygen. What’s tricky about them is that some aerobic bacteria help cannabis grow and are beneficial to mitigate other harmful bacteria, virus, or fungus. When present at dangerously high levels, they create a concern to public health and safety and impact the quality of the plant and the associated products. Aerobic bacteria may be an indicator of other contamination on a cannabis sample, and of bigger challenges with cleanliness throughout cultivation, production, and cannabis operations.

Aerobic Plate Counts (APC) is a tool and indicator of aerobic bacterial populations in a sample. APC can be useful to indicate quality, shelf-life, and consumer safety.  In many industries, such as food, APC identifies the sanitary quality and adherence to good manufacturing practices (GMP).  In cannabis where it is not required by many states, the risks of potentially high levels of aerobic bacteria existing unchecked become greater. This causes great alarm because of the harm aerobic bacteria can cause, including respiratory illnesses or fatal infections through direct inhalation. Due to its therapeutic properties, cannabis is often consumed by a greater population of people with compromised immune systems who are more susceptible to or at particular risk of adverse health effects.  This highlights the critical nature of quality microbial testing.

Testing APC throughout the supply chain and with compliance testing further ensures product quality and safety for human consumption. The reduction of pesticide usage and the implementation of increasing GMP sanitation and hygiene practices can influence the levels of Aerobic Counts and subsequently decrease danger. It’s impossible to completely prevent the occurrence of aerobic bacteria because it thrives on oxygen and most plants need oxygen around their roots; however, through good GMP you can keep them at safe levels.

Proactively assessing and mitigating your environment may improve the quality and safety of your cannabis and cannabis products. Testing for Aerobic Bacteria throughout the supply chain combined with local compliance testing regulations, will ensure those lower aerobic bacteria levels and safety for human consumption.