As more states legalize medical and recreational-use cannabis, there is a growing market for cannabis gummies, chocolates, baked goods, and beverages, in addition to a growing concern over the safety of cannabis edibles

Surveys consistently show the popularity of edibles, and according to Weedmaps’ 2021 Custom Cannabis Consumer Survey, edibles gained the most in category momentum last year, spurred by an “explosion of new products that made their way onto ‘best of’ lists.” According to the survey, category momentum means that those products are growing in popularity because people use, like, and talk about them.

Cannabis ChocoalteAlthough the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) currently doesn’t regulate the food safety of cannabis edibles, states are implementing a patchwork of regulations governing their cannabis markets. Edibles manufacturers are encouraged to implement food safety plans modeled after FDA programs, with current Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPS) and at least one Preventive Controls Qualified Individual on staff.

There’s much that edibles manufacturers can learn from the food industry, and this ImEPIK blog will explore some of the food safety lessons that would benefit the cannabis industry.

Create a Culture of Food Safety

As one of the core elements of the FDA’s New Era of Smarter Food Safety, a culture of food safety is essential in ensuring all employees are invested in keeping the company’s products safe.

“We will not make dramatic improvements in reducing the burden of foodborne disease without doing more to influence the beliefs, attitudes, and, most importantly, the behaviors of people and the actions of organizations,” according to the agency’s New Era of Smarter Food Safety Blueprint.

With an emphasis on a food safety culture, companies can strengthen their programs by getting buy-in across the organization.

Food Safety Includes Food Security

Food companies must address security issues, keeping the manufacturing facility and other buildings that house operations secure from the general public. A food safety plan will identify and assess risks both inside and outside the plant. These considerations are in addition to the steps that handlers must take to protect the cannabis supply.

Learn the Lingo

Government agencies tend to communicate using industry-specific jargon and terminology, and food safety programs are no different. Learning the language of regulatory agencies and the industry will help edibles manufacturers navigate the process, from cGMPs (current Good Manufacturing Practices) to FSMA (Food Safety Modernization Act).

Quality Control Extends to All Ingredients

Makers of edibles must have tight controls on the cannabis in their products, from where it is stored to how it is handled on the production line. But food safety extends to all ingredients, so cGMPs must address protocols for all of them. That includes freshness checks and attention to tracking allergens such as nuts, milk, or soy products.

Document the Process

Food safety is about more than overseeing the manufacturing process. A key element is documenting everything, from when a floor is swept to temperatures at different points in the process, and post-manufacturing test results, if necessary. When cannabis edibles fall under the purview of the FDA, the agency will require that documentation.

ImEPIK, Your Partner in Food Safety

ImEPIK’s three-part Cannabis Edibles Safety Course© is designed to help edibles manufacturers comply with FSMA mandates and provides a comprehensive look at needs specific to the cannabis industry.

Contact ImEPIK to learn how your cannabis edibles company can benefit from the comprehensive training program.