It’s important to have a properly managed sanitation system in place for your manufacturing facility. Even if it looks clean, it may not necessarily be clean enough to keep your cannabis edibles or pharmaceuticals from contamination.
Here are just some of the dangers that your facility can face.
Wide Range of Contaminants
Potential contaminants in a food or pharmaceutical facility usually fall into three different categories: microbiological, chemical, and physical. These can come from the air, humans, packaging, materials, microorganisms, and products. A well-managed facility will be thoroughly cleaned with food-safe chemicals to ensure that all surfaces are clean and sanitized at all times.
Perhaps the biggest concern is when products and materials leave behind residue on facility equipment. If not adequately removed, this residue can not only create adulteration from batch to batch, it can also encourage the growth of bacteria, molds, fungi, and other microorganisms. While many are harmless, other pathogenic organisms can cause serious illness in humans.
This illness can lead to sickness and hospitalization for people who consume these contaminated products. Some of the more dangerous pathogens include salmonella, e.coli, and listeria monocytogenes. While some may not directly impact your cannabis facility, you still need to be aware of them. And there has been a potential for cross-contamination, as we’ve recently heard in the news that even produce is now affected by previous microorganisms that only affected the meat and poultry industry. There can also be pathogens from the air, surfaces, or carried in by workers that can be of concern.
What Does Sanitation Involve?
Proper sanitation of a facility not only includes cleansing of all surfaces (ceiling, walls, and floors), but also cleaning every part of the equipment that comes into direct contact with food or materials. This may include regular equipment maintenance where it’s disassembled and cleaned.
A proper HVAC system is key to a sanitary environment. If the air being pushed through a facility is unclean, so is everything within that facility. Air purification filters need to be changed on a regular schedule.
Arguably the most common type of contamination is what the industry calls “person to product”, meaning that workers unintentionally carry pathogens into production areas and into product material. Simple things such as using a cell phone, rubbing your nose with a pen, or dropping something on the floor can dirty the hands and therefore surrounding work surfaces if a re-sanitation does not occur. Workers should be required to wear special head coverings, googles, gloves, shoe coverings, and uniforms to enter the production facility.
Sanitation also involves the adequate removal of waste from the facility. This may need to conform to local regulations. Hazardous waste needs to be removed in a specific manner.
Sanitation also requires pest control. Where there are humans and food, there are insects, mice, rats, and other critters who’ll try to enter the facility. These pests and animals can leave behind waste that also has the potential to contaminate your products.
Failure to Conform to Regulations
If your facility fails to conform to federal, state, or local codes it can lead to the suspension of your operations. And this is perhaps not even the most serious thing that can happen. Having a customer or patient become sick from contaminated products can lead to expensive lawsuits.
The least serious part of having poorly managed sanitation in your facility is that your products get contaminated with a bit of dust. The worst is that microorganisms can be growing on your conveyor belt or trimming machine that can cause serious harm to a customer or patient.