Post-Harvest Remediation of Contaminated Cannabis

Decontaminate Naturally

Enhance Your Product

Extend Shelf Life

Research has proven that high-quality, contaminant-free cannabis products are more important than ever with the growing reforms and progress surrounding medical and recreational consumption. Marijuana is susceptible to contaminants similar to those that affect consumer food products. The worst offenders you might find in your cannabis are mold, powdery mildew, a fungus called Aspergillus, bile-tolerant gram-negative bacteria, salmonella, and yeast. When regulators find toxic products, such as flowers and pre-rolls, on the shelf from lots that have previously met state standards, it is likely because of post-harvest environmental control of the products. Post-harvest remediation is the solution to this serious issue.

Now that cannabis cultivation has become accepted as a legal business across much of the United States, growers have come face-to-face with the consequences of failing state tests for microbial contamination (Most of Colorado’s Failed Cannabis Tests Stem from Microbials, Microbial Testing in Cannabis: Regulatory and Analytical Challenges). In general, about 10% of cannabis fails the microbial contamination test at a dispensary or retail store post-harvest (Post-Harvest Solutions to Microbial Contamination Issues, Cannabis Microbial Remediation: The Best Way To Ensure Safety). Still, it is this 10% that can be the difference between profits and business failure. Losing your profits and reputation to an unseen enemy is a huge disappointment and financial burden.

When you consider the large-scale environmental conditions in which the cannabis is grown, harvested, dried, cured, and stored and compare it to the internal microenvironment of the dispensaries and retail stores, it makes sense that similar environmental conditions would affect the packaged products in the same way. Once the cannabis that has been tested and cleared has been packaged in sealed containers and sent to the dispensaries, additional tests for microbial contamination may show an increase in yeast and mold, even to the extent of causing a failure of the state-mandated requirements for microbial contamination. Products may be uncontaminated at the time of delivery from a supplier, which means the origin of this contamination is likely because conditions within the new environment were favorable to microbial growth.

When faced with post-harvest microbial contamination, you may want to implement post-harvest remediation techniques to ensure that such an event does not occur in the first place and have confidence that your products will pass the state-mandated tests while on the shelves and every time products leave the facility. Implementing post-harvest remediation and having faith that your product will pass strict state-mandated tests consistently is critical and essential to ensure your final product doesn’t risk the health of your consumers and your business. Depending on the processes and products used, decontamination can affect the quality, potency, and taste of cannabis, so it is essential to weigh all the pros and cons involved with any products or processes that come into contact with your cannabis and make sure they won’t compromise on quality or safety standards.

There is an ever-growing need for post-harvest remediation and decontamination technology in the cannabis industry today. Post-harvest is the last chance to treat the product prior to packaging it for consumption. If the packaging process is aseptic, then decontamination at that point is the best option to keep the product clean for the consumer. The best way to address issues with pathogens that may cause post-harvest contamination in any facility is to be proactive rather than reactive. There are a lot of factors that influence a cultivator’s decision to implement decontamination technology, but in the commercial grows, where a test failure could mean removing up to 100+ pounds of cannabis from the supply chain, the need is clear and so it should be with dispensaries and retail outlets as well.

Today, cannabis cultivators and dispensaries are the beneficiaries of decades of technology developments for consumer safety, including those developed for food safety. With cannabis in the mainstream of consumer products, it is time to take advantage of those developments and use them to create safe cannabis that will always pass the state-mandated tests for microbial contamination. These methods eliminate or significantly reduce the microbial contamination on the post-harvest cannabis and help to create the controlled microenvironment inside the dispensary and the final cannabis packaging necessary for ensuring safe cannabis across the supply chain.

Safety Net has developed an “Enhanced Bio-Security Program” from our core experience in the healthcare industry. Our products and processes set a new standard for proactively remedying pathogens such as bacteria, yeast, mildew, mold, and fungus in several agricultural markets. Designed to safeguard your environment beyond the typical approach to cleaning and disinfecting, our proven disinfection products and solutions center on providing long-term prevention results. We take an organic approach, utilizing cost-effective and environmentally friendly products and processes to create sustainable systems and promote healthy local biodiversity.

Remediation Steps for Contaminated Product

With contamination already occurring in existing packaged products, treating this product before bringing anything more into the facility is essential. Unfortunately, there is no quick way to accomplish this without removing the existing product from its packaging and treating the potential source of the problem. This treatment will be a two-step process that will enable you to eradicate the current pathogens on the cannabis product and then prepare the packaging to put the decontaminated product into.

The first step will be to kill the microbes in the post-harvest cannabis already packaged. This disinfection is accomplished using UVC technology like our AUVS UVC Disinfecting Cube. Research has proven that UVC can be very effective on cannabis when appropriately used (Disinfection & Sterilization Effects of UVC for Cannabis, Why UVC For Powdery Mildew And Bud Mold). The AUVS UV Cube is highly effective in disabling or killing microorganisms that may exist in a short 55-second cycle. The main benefits of UVC disinfection and sterilization on cannabis are the process is easy, environmentally friendly, and chemical- free. UVC can offer strong disinfection and sterilization to cannabis in a short time with no adverse effects on the original quality, potency, and taste of your cannabis product. Remove the contaminated cannabis from its packaging and spread it out inside the UVC chamber so that all of the cannabis product can get the full effects of the UVC when processed.

The next step will be to treat the original packaging (inside and outside) with an antimicrobial product like SafetyNet’s Biotrexx 247, which creates an active antimicrobial barrier protecting the packaged product from microbial attack from mold, mildew, fungus and yeast. . Independent microbiological testing has proven the effectiveness of Biotrexx 247 in addition to having EPA Registration and FDA clearance.

Once the packaging has been treated and the cannabis product has been put through a UVC treatment, it is safe to place back into the packaging with the assurance that any further pathogen issues will be eliminated. But are there any gaps in this procedure?

Treat the Cause, Not the Symptoms – Preventative Measures to Stop Future Contamination

Although the elimination of any current contaminated product is the priority, one of the next things to consider in the post-harvest decontamination process is how to kill the microbes in the post-harvest cannabis when it arrives at a facility and before packaging. So often, many things that can create opportunities for post-harvest contamination, such as hygiene management, are overlooked or not considered. Still, these very things could be the start of an even bigger issue with contamination once the product is packaged.

Hygiene management is critical due to contaminants that are introduced from outside sources. There needs to be a focus on high standards for hygiene and cleanliness to keep your facilities pathogen-free and reduce the risk of cross-contamination. Simple things such as hand sanitizing and disinfection of mobile devices can be significant contributors.

Safety Net’s mPulse long-lasting antimicrobial hand sanitizer redefines the hand hygiene market with advanced technology that extends protection.  Even though people feel the need to be concerned about hand sanitizing is minimal now that COVID has passed, it is still a concern. It should be addressed, especially in aseptic production environments. If warranted, hand sanitizers at entry points to a facility and throughout the facility would dramatically reduce the possibility of cross- contamination from outside sources.

Cross-contamination can also occur with the very items we don’t think about but are a part of our everyday life, such as mobile devices, watches, hats, and even scarves that have the potential to collect germs and viruses and be carried in and out of a facility. Without realizing it, these items are Petri dishes of germs and viruses and, when used throughout any facility, can unknowingly contribute to the spread of pathogens. Our AUVS UVC Disinfection Cube can easily integrate into any environment. It can provide complete disinfection for any device or article that may move from one place to another as people move in and out of a facility, such as mobile devices, or lose articles of clothing.

Next, it is vital to create the proper microenvironment for the packaged cannabis so that once sealed and made ready for sale; the product can resist all microbial attacks within this enclosed environment. It is crucial to consider the materials and packaging that products will go in, which have the potential to harbor pathogens that lay dormant until they come in contact with something they can infect. Treating all materials with an antimicrobial product like Safety Net’s Biotrexx 247 creates an active antimicrobial barrier, resulting in the highest efficacy against the complete microbial spectrum (odor causing bacteria, fungi (Aspergillus), & spores). The technology behind this product uses a carbon spike along with a positively charged nitrogen molecule so once bonded to the surface, it will attract microbes from the air or surrounding untreated surfaces, where the carbon spike contained within the product can pierce the microbe, and the nitrogen molecule in the product suffocates the microbe with nitrogen (Aspergillus Case Study For California Grow Facility). Independent microbiological testing has proven the effectiveness of Biotrexx 247 in addition to having EPA Registration and FDA clearance.

Although treating all forms of packaging before inserting the product is the first step, treating the entire environment where the product exists with Biotrexx 247 is critical. Much like the hygiene processes recommended, treating the environment as a whole (walls, floors, shelves, etc.) will ensure minimal bio-load, so mitigating the spread of airborne pathogens is easy.

While no system can legally claim that the product is 100% sterile, we believe our methods and products are the most effective means of reducing the microbial bio-burden while maintaining all the original quality, potency, and taste your cannabis has to offer.

About the Author

Jim Harris is Director of Business Development for Safety Net and owner of High Point Mobile Services, amongst other ventures. Jim works to expand Safety Net’s suite of highly effective products into new markets.

The Enhanced Disinfection Program

The “Gold” Standard of Infection Prevention

When we consider biosecurity from the perspective of infection control, we need to take a comprehensive look at the target environment along with the innumerable pathways a dangerous microbe can exploit to arrive at destination you. When adopting infection prevention policies into the workplace we need to aim for easy workflow integration and simple communication of updated protocols to staff & visitors. COVID-19 fast-tracked the demand for infection prevention strategies to be utilized outside of the healthcare industry and put the responsibility on the business owners to create and implement these new strategies.

As a former restaurant owner & operator, I know from firsthand experience that there is minimal time to focus on infection prevention on the frontlines of every-day business. When there is lack of attention to detail in this area there is a breeding ground for antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Adopting the “quick fix” to meet the bare minimum requirements can give dangerous bacteria an opportunity to adapt and evolve to become more dangerous.

Superbugs have been rapidly developing in the post-pandemic world as a byproduct of the “gold rush” mentality that took over infection control industry and flooded the everyday market with weak solutions. Low efficacy products are irresponsible and should be condemned and taken off the market to ensure long-term protection.

In today’s world we need to design our infection prevention strategies to safeguard people and environments beyond the normal approach to cleaning and disinfecting. Safety Net has adopted this philosophy well-before the COVID-19 Pandemic arrived on scene. Since 2006, we’ve been actively analyzing, onboarding, and implementing the best infection prevention solutions and technologies to create what we believe to be the future of infection control.

Combining evidence-based infection control strategies supported by agencies such as the CDC, EPA, and FDA with tactics to put the minds of facility leadership and occupants at ease, our NEW Enhanced Disinfection Program (EHD) is a total solution and should be recognized as the “gold” standard in the fight against infectious diseases.

Personalized On-Site Risk Assessment

Starting with an on-site risk assessment, we will examine conditions in the client workplace to identify potential workplace exposures to COVID-19 and other infectious diseases. We will evaluate the client’s entire workplace or the specific operations the client designates and discuss our recommendations and the applicable OSHA standards.

From this assessment we will make recommendations for the proper combination of products and services that best meet our client’s needs. Identification and confirmation of critical high-touch surface disinfection objectives establishes a baseline for a successful infection prevention program. With products and services tailored to specific facility types, the focus now shifts from “What to do” to “How to do it” by prioritizing ongoing infection control maintenance. 

A Two-Prong Model

“Simplicity is a prerequisite for reliability.”

Edsger Dijkstra

We’ve boiled down our Enhanced Disinfection Program into two parts: the “Front Door Policy” and “Bio-Protection Mitigation Strategy.” Separate, these prongs are effective. Together, they create an indomitable strategy that covers all the major pathways of transmission for your specific work environment.

Front Door Policy

Every successful infection prevention strategy starts at the front door. It is widely recognized that most of the spread of infections in businesses including healthcare is brought in from the outside by employees, visitors, and patrons. According to a study done in Scotland during the COVID-19 pandemic found that, “the ‘first wave’ in Scotland show that healthcare workers in patient facing roles—especially those in “front door” roles—are, along with their households, at particular risk.”

As much as we love seeing a smiling receptionist at a lobby-desk, during a pandemic we should limit this face-to-face interaction or at least take a few extra preventative measures to ensure the encounter is as safe as possible. Our “front door policy” includes solutions like our Tantum Facial Recognition Thermometer. This cutting-edge detection system uses infrared thermal imaging technology to detect visitors’ body temperatures. What sets this device apart from the rest is the industrial-grade binocular camera with live facial recognition that enables face-with-mask identification. This affords your receptionist peace of mind as there is also an alarm system built in to notify you of someone who is running a fever so you can stop the infection at the front door.

Another great piece of technology that we can implement at your front door is our Macro door frame temperature detector. Designed much like a metal detector, the Macro mitigates the risks of cross-infection by manual testing. Just like a metal detector, this device will sound an alarm if it detects an abnormal temperature. Cutting off the chances of allowing infected people inside to contaminate more people and surfaces.

In addition to these great prevention tools, we include a rapid UV disinfection station with mounted hand sanitizer dispenser offered to the visitors to practice good hand hygiene. Our rapid UV disinfection device, the ExpressPro, is an amazing gadget that helps prevent the spread of infection through shared mobile devices. We know from “60 Seconds to Save a Life” that mobile devices are the new trojan horse for infectious diseases, offering a unique pathway of transmission. The ExpressPro eradicates dangerous microbes through UV light radiation in an enclosed setting which is highly efficacious and sustainable for the environment, as opposed to alcohol swab-wipes and traditional disinfection methods.

The hand sanitizer is the final piece of the front door policy puzzle. It packs a punch too. The mPulse hand sanitizer is an alcohol-free antimicrobial sanitizer that gets stronger the more you use it. Easy on the skin with a clean smell it makes hand sanitizing enjoyable and easy to inspire visitors to use.

These 4 solutions make up our “front door policy” which is designed for a mostly contactless experience and a comprehensive defense strategy at your points of entry. Another key feature of this policy is that it is fully OSHA compliant. You will avoid fines and community-based infections by implementing and executing this prong of our Enhanced Disinfection Program.

Bio-Protection Mitigation Strategy

Every business needs the right partner who has the knowledge and expertise that will work with you to develop a program that meets your specific needs. Our Front Door Policy is where it begins, but our “Bio-Protection Mitigation Strategy” is the next step in keeping germs and viruses at bay.

The scope of our program will include recommendations for frequency of disinfecting, which areas should be disinfected, and which products and services are best for the areas needing to be disinfected. Our ability to provide the proper training and education in workplace safety and compliance, whether OSHA or any other requirement that may be mandated to you, is what makes our Infection Mitigation Program a perfect solution for any business.

Safety Net has spent over a decade building many partnerships within our industry to accrue the best portfolio of solutions and technologies. A top-to-bottom environmental mitigation strategy encompasses regular consultation and training, air purification, UV disinfection, hand hygiene, whole room touchless disinfection, targeted disinfection, and eco-friendly disinfectants and antimicrobials.

  1. Client Consultation – We will start by conducting an on-site risk assessment that will examine conditions in the client workplace to identify potential workplace exposures to COVID-19 and other infectious diseases. We will evaluate the client’s entire operation and discuss applicable solutions and technologies that are compliant with OSHA’s standards. We will point out additional risk factors that pose a threat to employee health as well as gaps in training protocols. This is arguably the most important part of the Bio-Protection Mitigation Strategy because it helps educate proper disinfection methods and promotes sustainable practices moving forward.
  2. UV Disinfection – Advanced UV disinfection technology and UV-C solutions provide a solution for everyone and every mobile device. From UV disinfection for mobile devices to UV products that provide entire room disinfection at the touch of a button, we can provide products that meet all your disinfection needs.
  3. Air Purification – Our air purification systems can help you reduce dangerous pollutants and pathogens form your indoor environments. Let us help you take control of your indoor air quality by reducing pollutants that can contribute to foul odors, headaches, lung irritation and fatigue as well as more long-term conditions such as asthma, allergies, and infectious diseases. Some of our technologies can not only provide clean indoor air but they can reduce pathogens on indoor hard surfaces as well.
  4. Hand Hygiene – this is one of the most important methods to avoid the transmission and cross-contamination of harmful pathogens and prevent healthcare associated infections (HAIs). Our unique products, like the mPulse hand sanitizer, are alcohol-free and increase germ killing effectiveness over time with repeated use. It provides protection between hand washings, is skin friendly, and lasts up to 8 hours.
  5. Whole Room Touch-less Disinfection – You can’t physically spray and wipe every inch of your facility; this is where whole room touch-less disinfection devices come in. Our whole room products help reach into every nook and cranny of a room to find and destroy pathogens where they hide. These devices meet the OSHA mandate for a safe workplace and are designed to meet and exceed the EPA Disinfection Performance Standards.
  6. Targeted Disinfection – Our line of small electrostatic sprayers is compatible with all water-based disinfectants and antimicrobials. The disinfectant line is the ideal solution for biosecurity, fighting MRSA, E. Coli, salmonella, swine flu, C. Diff, H1N1, and various other bacteria and viruses. With better spray coverage than traditional spray and wipe methods, our sprayers completely eradicate dangerous microbes on hard surfaces.
  7. Disinfectants and Antimicrobials – Our disinfection and anti-microbial products a fast solution for the hardest to kill bacteria and viruses and offers residual technology solution that maintains efficacy between cleanings and disinfections by reducing the build-up of biofilms and microbial colonization.

While all these areas need to be considered, the priorities vary widely based upon a given industry’s practices. Some work environments require the implementation of most of the above infection prevention solutions, some will not, which is why the client consultation and risk assessment is vital to the success of our Enhanced Disinfection Program. Infection control is not “one size fits all” and requires personalized planning for the best results.

The Money Factor

“The infection control market is primarily driven by the high prevalence of nosocomial infections and the growing number of surgeries that require control measures to stop spreading. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about one in every 20 patients admitted for the treatment will develop a nosocomial infection. Hospital-acquired infections result in more than 99,000 deaths each year. ​The lack of awareness regarding infection control and stringent regulatory requirements are anticipated to impede market growth. However, the government and non-government organizations’ initiatives regarding infection control, coupled with the growing control measures by the healthcare providers in hospitals, are expected to drive the market growth.”

This poses a slight problem that was highlighted during the peak of the pandemic. When the country was short on PPE, we had beer breweries making hand sanitizer, towel and linens companies pivoting into infection control, and numerous other businesses altering their operations to capitalize on the demand for infection control solutions.

These money-grabbers jumped on the market bandwagon for dollars and cents, not for the protection and betterment of society. With this mentality, the market was flooded with poor, environmentally harmful solutions that will inevitably lead to the development of AMRs. We’re starting to see AMRs develop more frequently and become more prevalent in the healthcare system. Since the pandemic has caused widespread adoption of infection control strategies and solutions, everyday business owners are looking for the cheapest solution to stay compliant with mandates to remain open.

A Long-Term Strategy for Total Environment Protection

The environment is an ever-changing arena and infection prevention strategies need to be adaptable and constantly tested. There is no Band-Aid that can be applied to stop the spread in a facility that suffers an outbreak, and you absolutely cannot cut corners when re-opening. Inconsistent disinfection practices allow microorganisms to adapt, become familiar with your disinfecting moves, grow resilient to them, and spread easier.

With this in mind, we’ve taken a step back, observed the battlefield, and created the Enhanced Disinfection Program to address the need for long-term infection prevention strategies in all healthcare facilities, schools, and businesses. Utilizing the partnerships we’ve formed throughout the past decade; we’ve outfitted the Enhanced Disinfection Program with the best hospital-grade technologies and solutions out there with “tomorrow” in mind. Thoughtful and continuous planning for the specifics of your work environment and for your budget is why this program is so great.

The Enhanced Disinfection Program is designed to protect businesses from fines and infections while affording them the opportunity to continue to operate safely, even during a pandemic. The comprehensive planning and highly vetted products and technologies that Safety Net deploys into the field coupled with our expert consultation is what separates our Enhanced Disinfection Program from the next. So, whether you adopt the “front door policy” or implement the “bio-protection mitigation strategy” is completely up to you but embracing the Enhanced Disinfection Program is guaranteed to protect you long-term the best.