Microbiology Testing

Detect microbial impurities in cannabis and hemp

The same conditions that are ideal for cultivation can also be ideal for the proliferation of microorganisms, bacteria, and pathogens. Microbiological contaminants can easily establish a foothold at any stage—from initial cultivation to finished product. Ingestion or inhalation of some microbes can lead to serious illness and health complications, particularly for patients and consumers with a compromised immune system.

Without federal oversight, testing rules differ greatly from state to state—leaving consumers varying levels of protection, and in some cases involving hemp analysis, no protection at all. We tackled this concern through diligent test method development, resulting in one of the nation’s largest selection of microbiological contaminant tests for the cannabis and hemp market.

SC Labs enables you to select the right solution for your unique testing needs. Our expansive offering covers a wide range of individual tests and six routine tests panels. Various bundled panel options were developed to target a comprehensive list of organisms, address state compliance rules, and meet guidelines established by the USP1, AHPA2, DCC3, or ORELAP4.

See our Microbiological Contaminant Testing Menu

  1. United States Pharmacopeia (USP)
  2. American Herbal Products Association (AHPA)
  3. Department of Cannabis Control (DCC)
  4. Oregon Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program (ORELAP)

Features and Benefits

  • ISO 17025:2017 and NELAC accredited lab accommodates USP, AHPA, USDA, and client-directed methods
  • Choose from 6 test panels or customize from 19 microorganisms (all ISO accredited) to meet your program needs
  • Target specific organisms of interest with advanced qPCR or traditional plating methods
  • High throughput testing with reliable turnaround times
  • Streamlined reporting and data management solutions ensure you can bring products to market faster, easier, and with more confidence

Our growing portfolio of microbiology testing solutions and relentless pursuit to progress quality standards is delivering an unprecedented number of advances for cannabis and hemp/CBD product safety.

Real-Time Quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction (qPCR)

Identifying microorganisms that are harmful holds great value for those in our industry. SC Labs is able to accomplish this through quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) technology—the future of DNA-based testing methods and screening for microbial impurities.

qPCR’s high sensitivity can detect and identify specific species of contaminants by utilizing the natural mechanisms of genetic amplification and engineered fluorescent probes. DNA probes are designed to bind to the 16s RNA region which is unique to particular species. When this binding occurs, a fluorescent molecule is cleaved from the probe, and the fluorescence is detected with calibrated instrumentation. The intensity of fluorescence, measured in refractory units (RFU), is captured by the instrumentation and displayed on an x,y graph.

SC Labs prides itself on providing reliable results, and our qPCR assay has been successfully validated against performance requirements set forth by the Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC)1 and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)2.

  1. Bureau of Cannabis Control, Title 16 California Code of Regulations, § 5713 Validation of Test Methods for microbial analysis of samples
  2. US Food and Drug Administration Guidelines for the Validation of Analytical Methods for the Detection of Microbial Pathogens in Foods and Feeds, 2nd Edition, April 2015, Single Laboratory Validation for a Qualitative Detection Emergency Use method guidelines for the detection of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC), Salmonella species, Aspergillus fumigatus, A. flavus, A. niger, and A. terreus.
microbial impurity testing through petrifilm and plating

3M Petrifilm

Petrifilms are designed to detect and enumerate various micro-organisms quickly and efficiently. They have a ready-made culture medium that contains a cold-water-soluble gelling agent, nutrients, indicator dye, and a built-in grid to provide contrast facilitate the counting of colony forming units (CFU). Plating is a quality indicator for overall microbial load, and it cannot always discern harmful pathogens from beneficial or benign organisms. Species specificity is available for E. coli and Salmonella, while other colonies can be isolated and identified using qPCR.

3M Petrifilm plates are ISO 9002 certified for design and manufacturing, and they are included in the official methods of analysis of AOAC International. They are also recognized in the United States by the American Public Health Association; the USDA Agricultural Marketing, Food Safety and Inspection Service; and the US Food and Drug Administration.

SC Labs readily offers plating services with the following 3M Petrifilm products: Rapid Yeast and Mold Count Plates, E. coli/Coliform Count Plates and Aerobic Count Plates. We can also provide plating services with other 3M Petrifilm products, such as Enterobacteriaceae, among others.

swabbing

Environmental Swabs

Contaminants are everywhere, and ensuring prep surfaces and equipment don’t act as a transmission agent is an ongoing effort. Swabbing not only provides peace of mind before investing production resources, it pin-points high-risk areas and sources of contamination.

Environmental swabs are a tool that facilities use to screen and identify sources of contamination. A variety of different surfaces can be swabbed–table tops, vents, ventilation systems, fans, manufacturing equipment, etc. Each individual swab is in a self-contained tube that can be reliably resealed. The swabs are pre-moistened with a neutralizing buffer to ensure microbial organisms maintain viability during transport.

SC Labs can provide assistance with instructions on how to map, track, and swab facilities. Testing of the swabs for microbial impurities can be performed through qPCR or plating.

Microbiological Contaminant Testing Menu

Analysis is conducted either by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and fluorescence detection of microbiological contaminants or by plating using 3M™ Petrifilm™ and plate counts of microbiological contaminants.

Microbiological contaminant testing is only offered at our California laboratory

Rush options are unavailable for these selections, as one or more organisms included use a plating test method which requires specific incubation times.

Routine Test Panels  |  Address expanded safety requirements

Contact SC Labs to review the appropriate panel options by state or test method (USP <61><2021> and AHPA).

Comprehensive Test Panel – National Hemp

PCR and Plating test methods. Targets 18 organisms. Meets national hemp testing standards (participating states).1

qPCR

  • Aspergillus spp.
    (A. fumigatus, A. flavus, A. niger, A. terreus)
  • Bile-Tolerant Gram-Negative Bacteria
  • Campylobacter spp.
  • Candida albicans
  • Listeria monocytogenes
  • Psuedomonas aeruginosa
  • Salmonella spp.
  • Shiga Toxin-Producing Escherichia coli (STEC)
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Yersinia spp.

Plating

  • Coliforms
  • Escherichia coli
  • Total Aerobic Bacteria
  • Total Enterobacteriaceae
  • Total Yeast and Mold

Expanded Test Panel

PCR and Plating test methods. Targets 14 organisms. Expanded panel ideal for stringent product safety and quality testing requirements.

qPCR

  • Aspergillus spp.
    (A. fumigatus, A. flavus, A. niger, A. terreus)
  • Campylobacter spp.
  • Candida albicans
  • Listeria monocytogenes
  • Psuedomonas aeruginosa
  • Salmonella spp.
  • Shiga Toxin-Producing Escherichia coli (STEC)
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Yersinia spp.

Plating

  • Total Aerobic Bacteria
  • Total Yeast and Mold

Standard Test Panel

PCR and Plating test methods. Targets 6 organisms. Covers relevant list of contaminants using advanced PCR and traditional plating methods.

qPCR

  • Bile-Tolerant Gram-Negative Bacteria
  • Salmonella spp.
  • Shiga Toxin-Producing Escherichia coli (STEC)
  • Staphylococcus aureus

Plating

  • Total Aerobic Bacteria
  • Total Yeast and Mold

Routine Test Panels  |  Address Compliance with California BCC microbial impurity testing requirements

6-Organism Test Panel – Inhalable (PCR)

PCR test method. Targets 6 organisms following California cannabis compliance regulations for inhalable products.

qPCR

  • Aspergillus spp.
    (A. fumigatus, A. flavus, A. niger, A. terreus)
  • Salmonella spp.
  • Shiga Toxin-Producing Escherichia coli (STEC)

2-Organism Test Panel – Non-Inhalable (PCR)

PCR test method. Targets 2 organisms following California cannabis compliance regulations for non-inhalable products.

qPCR

  • Salmonella spp.
  • Shiga Toxin-Producing Escherichia coli (STEC)

Individual Tests  |  Customize a test panel to meet your state or program requirements

A La Carte Tests

qPCR

  • Aspergillus spp.
    (A. fumigatus, A. flavus, A. niger, A. terreus)
  • Bile-Tolerant Gram-Negative Bacteria
  • Campylobacter spp.
  • Candida albicans
  • Listeria monocytogenes
  • Psuedomonas aeruginosa
  • Salmonella spp.
  • Shiga Toxin-Producing Escherichia coli (STEC)
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Yersinia spp.

Plating

  • Coliforms
  • Escherichia coli
  • Staphylococcus spp.
  • Total Aerobic Bacteria
  • Total Enterobacteriaceae
  • Total Yeast and Mold
  1. Meets most national hemp testing standards in terms of action limits and analytes for contaminants including pesticides, heavy metals, microbiology, mycotoxins, residual solvents, and water activity. Does not apply to inhalable hemp sample types.

SC Labs

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