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Microbial Screening


Microbial Screening

Microbial screening is an extremely important step in safe cannabis production. Because of the absorbent nature of the cannabis plant, precautions need to be taken to protect the health and safety of cannabis users. Pathogenic bacteria can pose serious risks to humans. This is especially true of patients with compromised immune systems, autoimmune diseases, or other chronic health conditions.

What are Pathogenic Bacteria?

Pathogenic bacteria are microorganisms that are typically unicellular that cause harm or disease. While most bacteria are harmless and some are even beneficial or work symbiosis with the human body, several species cause significant damage. This is why testing for the presence of these dangerous microorganisms is so essential.
LuxLEafDX Hemp and Cannabis Testing Lab

What are the Challenges Surrounding Microbial Screening?

There are many challenges facing regulators and laboratories regarding both testing and product safety. The most glaring are varying sample sizes, too many product types being released to the market, lack of standardized tests, and impossibly short testing deadlines, as well as contradictions in testing requirements. These challenges can create a lack of consistency for consumers and frustration for manufacturers.

The best thing manufacturers can do to solidify their reputation with their consumers and provide a safe, reliable user experience is to establish an ongoing relationship with a reputable lab. Working with a 3rd party lab can provide you with unbiased results, help you streamline your process, and provide your consumers with the peace of mind they are looking for.

Why is Microbial Screening Important?

Many manufacturers push back on the idea of microbial screening and its importance. Many manufacturers believe that contamination of particular products would be unlikely. This leads to a dangerous world of possibilities that could easily be avoided. It’s important to remember that the cannabis industry is young and still evolving. Meaning historical outbreak data is extremely limited; however, the problems faced by other manufacturing industries are similar, and it is dangerous to base testing on past facts ignoring future possibilities. Some key questions to ask when you are considering the importance of microbial screening are:
  • Who is the product destined for?
  • What is the likelihood of contamination in the product?
  • What impact would there be if the product was contaminated?
  • Are there process controls or steps in manufacturing during which contamination is likely controlled?

Pathogens We Analyze


Salmonella species are intracellular pathogens that cause illness in humans. It’s important to note that there are two species of Salmonella bacteria. Food and water can quickly become contaminated with the bacteria if they contact the feces of infected people or animals. Salmonella usually invades only the gastrointestinal tract and causes a disease called salmonellosis. The symptoms can be resolved with antibiotics. Unfortunately, although rare, Salmonella can invade the bloodstream and lead to sepsis, a life-threatening condition that requires intensive care, including IV Antibiotics. Many people only think of food poisoning when they think of Salmonella, but it can be deadly to immunocompromised patients using cannabis and hemp products, and testing is crucial.

Escherichia coli

E. Coli is a bacteria that generally lives in the intestines of animals and humans. Most E.coli are harmless and even an essential part of a healthy human intestinal tract. Unfortunately, some E. coli are pathogenic, meaning they cause illness. Some E. coli cause disease by making a dangerous toxin and Shiga toxin. This bacteria is known as “Shiga toxin-producing E. coli and is often abbreviated to STEC. This is the E. coli we hear about most commonly with foodborne illness. Symptoms often include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting. Some infections are very mild, but E. coli can cause severe, even life-threatening sickness. STEC lives commonly in the intestinal tract of ruminant animals (like cattle), so cattle manure is often how cannabis becomes contaminated.


Aspergillus is a common mold that can live both indoors and outdoors. It can cause an infection in humans called Aspergillosis that can cause health problems such as lung infections, allergic reactions, and organ infection. In most cases, acute Aspergillosis occurs in people with compromised immune systems or autoimmune diseases. Since cannabis and hemp products are also used to treat those conditions, they must be approved for medicinal use by patients.

How do you Test for Microbial Pathogens?

Our lab uses highly sensitive PCR (which stands for polymerase chain reaction) technology. This is effective in testing and used to screen for these bacteria at a genetic level.

Innovative Technology

LUX LEAF Diagnostics

The answer is simple: Speed, Quality & Service. We are a nimble lab that has invested heavily in equipment, software, a nationwide courier network, and processes to enable our personnel to deliver results quickly for our clients. At the same time, we emphasize ensuring we have every lab test that matters to you with the highest quality results because speed is just a number without quality. With LUX LEAF, you can expect your results to be back quickly and accurately.
We want to be your partner and not just your lab. Your success is our success, so let’s grow your business together.


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