Why Your Edible Didn't Turn Out Right
Updated: Mar 31
In cooking, chemistry matters. The same goes for making cannabis edibles.
With manufactured cannabis food items like candies, baked goods, or beverages, cannabis acts as an ingredient. It works in conjunction with everything else and it’s the manufacturer’s job to understand how they all synergize. Especially when producing at scale, each batch must come out the same.
Using cannabis as an ingredient throws more concerns into the mix, like potency and compliance issues. It also raises issues of treating cannabis as an allergen.
Fortunately, similar industries like food and beverage can act as a guide for cannabis operators. The food and beverage industry has established standards and procedures to ensure consistency in quality, safety, and compliance.
This article will look at common manufacturing obstacles when producing a cannabis food item at scale and how to avoid them.
Common Cannabis Manufacturing Issues
In cannabis manufacturing, there are a number of things that can go wrong. Products might turn out inconsistently or fail lab tests.
The most common issues fall under these three categories:
Cannabinoids are not naturally water-soluble, which presents absorption issues. Since legalization, the industry understands more about dosing and bioavailability, or how much THC or CBD a consumer will get.
There are several different extraction and emulsion methods operators can use. Knowing which one will work best to create efficacy is essential for the product to do what the label says it will. For example, nanotechnology, a popular method for beverages, can improve the delivery and onset of cannabinoids because it is water-soluble.
When factors like color, texture, consistency, and flavor don’t turn out the way they are supposed to, there is a quality assurance issue. Usually, this is because the ingredients are not working together correctly or the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) were not followed.
Shelf stability is another factor of quality assurance. All products will spoil eventually, but for items like beverages that may require refrigeration, premature expiration can have serious consequences.
A testing failure means a compliance failure. It can be the cannabis that’s at fault or additional ingredients. For example, if the product has turmeric, the turmeric could be causing a spike in pesticides or heavy metals. That’s why it’s critical to test both raw ingredients and the final product and have a secure commercial-grade supply chain.
Avoid Problems by Preventing Them
The most important work in creating any cannabis food item happens in the research and development (R&D) stage. Almost all manufacturing issues stem from this phase. Doing your homework and diligence before launching a full-scale operation can prevent costly mistakes.
Diligent R&D work is essential for several reasons. It helps set up standard operating procedures (SOPs) for quality control, assurance, and compliance. It lets operators know the product’s range of acceptability or how wrong it can turn out to still be right, and identifies where you will source your ingredients. This work is extremely beneficial for commercialization.
By taking the time to predict possible issues and risks and being diligent with product development, manufacturing issues are less likely to arise. This will save your brand time and money by not reverting to the drawing board.
What To Do if You Encounter Issues During Production
Say you’ve already begun manufacturing and are running into problems, regardless if you did or did not do diligent R&D. It’s okay — it happens. Here’s how to troubleshoot.
Review your SOPs
An SOP is only as good as it’s executed in real life. If something is going wrong during operation, the first step is to review your processes. Make sure all steps are clearly outlined and being followed whether you are producing it yourself or at a whitelabel or co-packing facility.
You might find something works better differently once you start manufacturing. This is why an SOP is a living document you can update and refine as you learn and go along.
Add Quality Checkpoints
If the SOP is being executed the way it was written and is still not working, then there’s a quality checkpoint that is missing. It’s always best to discover errors before you have a completed product. Having middle checkpoints makes it easier to catch and correct any problems.
For example, if you’re making cookies and the final weight is wrong, have a quality checkpoint for the cookie dough’s weight that accounts for inevitable water evaporation that causes shrinkage.
Develop Product Profiles for Multi-State Operations
If you’ve already expanded into a multi-state operation and are experiencing quality assurance issues, then it could be because you’re not sourcing the same ingredients. In that case, you would need to develop a product profile to find new source ingredients that will match best.
When to Reach Out
Cannabis is becoming mainstream, but that doesn’t mean there will be any less scrutiny to stay compliant and make safe, reliable, and effective products. And as the market grows, so will competition. The brands with the most efficient operations and best reviews will succeed.
It’s unrealistic to think nothing will go wrong or that you have to figure everything out on your own. If you are experiencing manufacturing issues or want to ensure your R&D work ahead of commercialization, you may want to bring in an outside specialist to troubleshoot any issues.
At TraceTrust, we make your edibles credible™. With our combined experience in food and beverage manufacturing, agriculture, supply chain, and cannabis, we can help you review and optimize your procedures and identify areas where potential issues could arise.
Visit our website to see our product manufacturing and compliance services.