Recalls are a necessary part of our lives, and they occur quite often. There are hundreds of food recalls performed each year. Now we are experiencing recalls in the cannabis industry. It is important to keep in mind that the primary objective of performing a recall is to protect consumer safety.
Welcome to a whole new game!
A recall occurs to remove defective or potentially harmful products from the marketplace.
Recalls can be expensive and stigmatizing. Companies involved are usually highly motivated to remedy the issue and recover as quickly as possible. It is in the producer’s best interest to do everything in their power to maintain and regain patient & customer confidence and brand trust as soon as possible.
In the United States, food recalls are typically generated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), or by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) through the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). Food manufacturers regularly perform mock recalls and, when needed, perform voluntary recalls of possibly contaminated product. Recently, listeria has become a major concern for contamination in the food industry and as a result, many companies are preparing themselves for prevention strategies.
As cannabis is still federally illegal, the FDA does not perform cannabis recalls. As a result, we are seeing local health departments and the state departments of agriculture getting involved in cannabis recalls. Recent recalls are voluntary and are related to potentially dangerous pesticide residue on flower, concentrates and infused products. Colorado has come into the spotlight recently for businesses performing a number of voluntary recalls, in the interest of protecting consumer safety. This January, a recall included “individual units of marijuana concentrates that are used for vaporizing” testing positive for Imidacloprid, Myclobutanil, Etoxazole and/or Avermectin, which are all pesticides determined by the Colorado Department of Agriculture as not usable on cannabis.
How do we know there is a problem?
- A manufacturer discovers a problem
- Inspectors reveal a potential issue
- A product fails a test carried out by a licensed laboratory
- A state health department may be alerted to an issue
Preparing for the “What- Ifs”
- What is your crisis management strategy?
- How will your team communicate the issue with regulators?
- What is the protocol to recover or destroy recalled product?
- What is the communication plan with purveyors & consumers?
- What new structures will be in place to prevent future issues?
How do we avoid a Recall?
Manufacturers and cultivators endeavor to prevent issues in the first place. Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) plans are used to ensure quality and safety during the production process. Mistakes can occur. It is ultimately the manufacturer’s responsibility to remove any possibly contaminated product from the market quickly and before potential damage is incurred.
As we pioneer the cannabis industry, it is important to be as proactive as possible at every step of the supply chain, from seed to the sale of cannabis: Cultivating, trimming, curing, extracting, infusing, producing, packaging, shipping, receiving, storing and selling are all points where safety measures should be in place.
How is your team doing with the following?
- GAP, GMP & HACCP plans to ensure quality product
- Testing, TESTING, Testing- to confirm safety of your goods
- Requiring strict & tested operating procedures from your suppliers
- Internal quality reviews
- Training and Accountability
Our desire is that you do not ever need to recover from a crisis, but mistakes happen. They create a learning opportunity for us to make a higher quality product, to strengthen our procedures and to show our consumers that we are committed to excellence.