By Heather Ritchie, Staff Writer for Cannabis Packaging and News
Legal cannabis is a fast-growing industry in the United States. Some have even coined it the next big revolution. It's more important than ever to keep up with food safety standards as this sector of the industry increases and changes at a rapid rate. 2020 projections for the legal market are set to reach $22 billion or more for the industry as a whole.
Since there are no regulations on food safety in the industry due to the plants schedule I status, it's up to each state to create their own laws and regulations. These standards are vital to similar industries which makes it difficult for those in the cannabis marketplace.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sets high standards for the food and pharmaceutical industries to ensure the safety of the consumer. With each state making its own sets of regulations, different jurisdictions vary, and everything is pieced together haphazardly. To maintain the consumer’s trust, the cannabis industry has a lot to establish to ensure quality and safety.
Legislation mandates testing requirements, however cannabis businesses’ “secrets” continue to make things difficult for many involved in the process. There is also an air of secrecy from those attempting to keep their proprietary methods and practices hidden, preventing audits from third parties and making the industry’s testing practices challenging to maneuver.
Further problems exist in that those in the cannabis industry must comply with their state’s sanitation and health practices. Modeling training programs after the food industry are not adequate in addressing cannabis-specific problems such as THC levels, potency, and a variety of production methods.
The Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points
“The Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) is a food program to control food safety at this step of food processing.” The concept farm-to-fork or table is a term people often repeat without realizing that it doesn’t just stand for organic and healthy products but also food safety control. It applies to all levels and scales of the food manufacturing process. HACCP is the last and final piece of the puzzle that fits right in the middle to bring the whole picture into focus.
HACCP didn't begin thousands of years ago. Rather, as the result of a necessity of the food industry. It was built in as a requirement the further advanced our technology became. It was imperative for the astronauts so that they didn't become sick in space (which of course could be a disaster).
Traditionally, HACCP has primarily focused on processing food and edibles and packaging. While it has several steps the first is one that really applies to the cannabis industry, and that’s hazard analysis. Many products use heat to kill bacteria or rid a product of hazards and then its packaged. The hazard analysis focuses on those that could cause illness or injury like biological, chemical, and physical.
HACCP is just one program for food safety being applied to the cannabis industry and really effects production of edibles. The end goal is to make the safest (and yummiest) product possible to keep consumers happy and increase their trust level of the process.
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