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Food Safety and Cannabis - What?

We know that food safety is not the most exciting or glamorous thing to think about when running a cannabis business. It is, however, one of the most important things to consider.


Food safety benefits consumers and producers by creating safe and reliable experiences, ensuring quality products, and in return, more profits. In short, it makes everything else you do possible and can make or break your business.


What is Food Safety in Cannabis?

Imagine that your business is growing the way you envisioned it. Imagine that everything is operating smoothly, and you don’t have to worry about anything going wrong or compliance failures. Instead, you have the time and the peace of mind to focus on what’s most important to you.


Implementing food safety practices is what makes this picture possible.


A hand touches the leaves of a cannabis plant.

Food safety is a set of repeatable standards that track products from start to finish. It affirms that all ingredients are safe, made consistently and competently, and free from cross-contamination. In turn, companies can gain a competitive edge by having higher quality products, resulting in consumer trust and loyalty and even higher profits.


While food safety applies to cannabis edibles and beverages, it also extends to all forms of cannabis consumables like flowers, tinctures, and concentrates.


How Does Food Safety Guarantee Standards?

While following food safety guidelines is a good look for individual brands, it also establishes and protects the integrity of the entire cannabis industry by ensuring quality and safety standards through specific processes and procedures.


The two most prevalent procedures are GMP and HACCP.


What Are GMP and HACCP?

GMP and HACCP come from established industries making consumer products for decades, like food and beverage, pharmaceuticals, and nutraceuticals.


Agencies like the FDA created them to address recurrent problems these industries faced in their infancy, like not disclosing ingredients, lacking instructions for use, and being careless in their manufacture.


Sort of like what the cannabis industry is going through today.


An employee turns raw ingredients into a future product following food safety guidelines.


GMP stands for Good Manufacturing Practices. It is an independent, third-party audit system that, as the name suggests, is concerned with safely manufacturing products through the following practices:


  • Validating all documentation for the entire operation from beginning to end.

  • Ensuring all products are consistently produced and controlled with quality standards to minimize risk and regulatory failure.

  • Regulating all manufacturing aspects like materials, ingredients, premises, equipment, staff training, and hygiene.

Overall, GMP guarantees that companies meet the safety, quality, and legal standards for every batch and have the ability to recall a product in the event of a problem and identify where the problem might have occurred to avoid repeat accidents.


Files in a file cabinet to show documentation.

HACCP stands for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points. It is a systematic approach designed to prevent hazards from occurring in production in seven steps:


  1. Identifying hazards that can be prevented, eliminated, or reduced.

  2. Identifying critical control points (CCPs) where control is necessary to prevent, eliminate, or reduce hazards.

  3. Identifying and defining critical limits for CCPs.

  4. Establishing and implementing monitoring procedures at CCPs.

  5. Establishing corrective actions when monitoring.

  6. Identifying verification and validation procedures, then implementing those procedures to verify the program is working efficiently.

  7. Documenting and maintaining records.

HACCP is a component of GMP. You do not need a HACCP plan in GMP, but it does help ensure the success of your GMP procedures and can identify risks before they occur, saving both time, money, and your reputation.


Why Are GMP and HACCP Certifications Essential for Cannabis Companies?

Food safety procedures aren’t just about following best practices — it’s about proving you’re following best practices. The best way to prove it is to get certified.


Here are the benefits a certificate can bring:


  • Enhanced productivity and efficiency.

  • Keeps your brand out of hot water with state or governmental agencies by meeting all compliance standards.

  • Improved safety for employees and consumers.

  • Keeps staff adequately trained and updated on training.

  • Helps identify, mitigate, and prevent risks like product recalls or lawsuits, which saves you time, money, and your brand’s reputation.

  • Gives you a competitive marketing advantage and builds customer loyalty and trust.


A smiling employee takes a customers payment.

With certification comes recognition. To create quality products your customers will love, business owners must understand the integral role manufacturing and production plays and how the small, day-to-day practices make it possible.


When Should Companies Get Certified?

Any company can get certified at any time. But to truly optimize your food safety certification, the earlier you do it, the better and cheaper it will be since there will be less you will have to change or restructure.


Now, getting certified can be expensive. But considering how 90% of cannabis businesses fail in their first year, getting certified in HACCP and GMP should be viewed as an investment that will save you money in the long run due to enhanced risk management and customer loyalty.


How To Get HACCP and GMP Certified

There’s no doubt about it — getting certified is complicated and confusing. At TraceTrust, we show you what you’re missing and point you in the right direction. We help you identify your needs ahead of beginning the GMP audit process.


TraceTrust has been building safety standards for Cannabis and Hemp since 2016, bringing over 25 years of experience in providing third-party audit processes in the agriculture, food, and beverage industries. We have seen how HACCP and GMP certifications make brands stand out.


We’ve even taken it a step further with our hGMP™ or A True Dose™ certifications. These are unique to cannabis and hemp and validate the transparency of all ingredients, label claims, instructions for use, dose potency and accuracy, and good manufacturing practices.


Are you ready to put your mind at ease knowing your products are being made smoothly and compliantly without you? Check out our website to learn more about getting GMP certified, or contact us directly.

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