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Edibles Don’t Get Recalled … Do They?

Updated: Nov 26, 2018


Edibles Don’t Get Recalled … Do They?

Food recalls are serious business, for both the consumers who may have purchased a contaminated product and the business that is facing the financial and reputational impacts of recalling product.


We’ve all heard about various food recalls – whether it be that of romaine lettuce or peanut products or a fast food menu item. But as an edibles producer, do you really have to worry about recalls? Have there been any?


Unfortunately, the answer to that is a resounding YES!


The greatest contaminant for edibles recalls is the use and residues of unauthorized pesticides, but edibles producers also have faced recalls for mold and fungus, non-food-grade ingredients, and production without health department approval.


In fact, according to a list published and regularly updated by The Cannabist, Colorado alone has had 16 recalls for contamination since the beginning of 2017. While this includes all cannabis products, it is fairly safe to assume that a pesticide contamination took place in the growing process and would impact any further downstream producer using that lot. However, recalls have been caused by other issues too.


Let’s take a look at some of the edibles recalls:


  • In Illinois, medical marijuana gummies were recalled from dispensaries due to what appeared to be mold. The company’s internal investigation found that a new type of packaging allowed moisture into the gummy multi-packs. (Chicago Tribune)

  • In Colorado, a producer recalled six of its products, including mints and chocolate bars, due to use of non-food-grade essential oils. In its press release on the recall, the company stated that it was reviewing potential misrepresentations by the ingredient supplier as to the intended uses for their essential oil products. (Westword)

  • A Denver-based manufacturer recalled more than 100,000 suckers, lozenges and powdered candy determined to have been derived from contaminated plant material purchased from two cultivation facilities in Denver. The products were determined to have residual levels of Imidacloprid and Myclobutanil, neither of which is approved for use on marijuana in Colorado. (KDVR)

  • In California, a cannabis-infused beverage was recalled for the presence of ethyl alcohol. The company’s use of an ethyl-alcohol-based flavoring caused the drinks to have an alcohol content above that allowed by state law. What is of further interest in this incident is that the beverage had passed a previous test, but after the state introduced more stringent testing standards, the lab reissued results with a failing grade. (MJ Biz Daily)

  • And, finally, in Arizona, a routine state inspection of a dispensary kitchen revealed the production of four new food products that the producer had not cleared with the Health District. The kitchen had been approved for confectionery items, but was also producing condiments such as cannabis-infused ketchup and hot sauce. (Journal of Environmental Health)

While there were no reported illnesses occurring from any of these, other producers have faced some very serious repercussions, such as the Colorado company being sued for alleged use of the fungicide myclobutanil on marijuana they purchased. One of the two filing the lawsuit is a medical card holder with a brain tumor. (Denver Post)


And back in California, after two young cancer patients were found to have a rare but lethal fungal infection that killed one of them, scientists began a study of medical marijuana samples from across the state. They found that 90% of the 20 samples studied were contaminated with bacteria and fungi, including Klebsiella, E. coli, Pseudomonas, Acinetobacter. (CBS San Francisco)


It also should be of interest to all edibles producers that in the Arizona case cited above, that in addition to not having tested the foods, the inspectors noted that the dispensary had not developed a hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP) plan.


Do you have a HACCP plan? Do you know how to develop a HACCP plan? Having been a foundational food safety program of the food industry for decades, HACCP is one of the surest ways to analyze the potential hazards of your process and protect your products, your customers, and your brand image.


HashTAG can help! We work with clients regularly to assess their current food safety programs and help determine any critical gaps. We also can provide assistance in the development of a Cannabis Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (CHACCP) program as well - along with other key consulting services to help you mitigate risks and protect your brand. Contact us today.

About HashTAG


Led by Dr. David Acheson, HashTAG is part of The Acheson Group (TAG), a food safety consulting group that provides guidance and expertise worldwide for companies throughout the food supply chain. With a focus on the Cannabis Edibles Industry, the HashTAG team brings in-depth industry knowledge combined with real-world experience to help companies more effectively mitigate risk, improve operational efficiencies, and ensure regulatory and standards compliance. To learn more about HashTAG food safety consulting services and expertise, please visit: www.HashTAG.global

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