The Growing Risk of Product Contamination in Cannabis Manufacturing

June 22, 2021


At any point during the growing, harvesting, storing or packaging process, cannabis products can be subject to various sources of contamination. When gone unnoticed, these contaminants can end up in consumer products and result in costly product liability lawsuits against the manufacturer.

And it’s a growing concern. According to a report by CD ClorDiSys, “As the legalization and medicinal utilization of cannabis increases around the world, so does the potential threat of contaminants making their way to consumers.”

As a cannabis manufacturer, it’s impossible to avoid every type of contamination. However, by understanding the main areas where product contamination can occur, you can better identify key areas of risk, implement proper safeguards and secure the right level of product liability insurance coverage appropriate for your operation.

Here are four primary areas where cannabis manufacturers have the greatest exposure for product contamination:

1. Handling. The improper handling of cannabis is the most common way of introducing unwanted contaminants. Industry experts advise facilities to implement and enforce a number of basic strategies to prevent cross contamination in the field and in the manufacturing facility. These measures should include frequent employee handwashing to prevent cross contamination, changing into clean scrubs or other protective clothing, face masks and gloves.

2. Equipment. Supplies used in the growing and processing of cannabis can transfer contaminants, such as mold, bacteria and heavy metals from old or poorly maintained harvesting equipment, and increase the possibility of cross-contamination throughout the facility and farm. From compromising your entire crop to a major consumer health threat, the best way to avoid contamination is to ensure your cultivation facility is clean, all equipment is decontaminated, and employees know and follow best practices for preventing cross-contamination – in and out of the manufacturing facility.

3. Harvesting and post-harvesting. Mold and mildew is a common contaminate in cannabis manufacturing whenever moisture is present, and can reproduce spores that travel by air and attach to plants, skin and clothing. After the drying and curing process, experts advise testing the product for mold, mildew and other microbial pathogens.

4. Environment. Fungal spores, pollen, pesticides and other environmental factors can contribute to cannabis contamination. While many of these types of environmental challenges are beyond your control, understanding the sources of contamination you may be up against can help identify what you should be testing for based on your location and exposure.

Learn how you can reduce your product liability exposure and best mitigate losses with product liability insurance.

As a cannabis industry specialist, I can help you stay informed on key liability coverages to protect your business. Please contact me at ctobin@boltonco.com or 626-703-1556. Follow along on Instagram and LinkedIn for more information.