Microbial Contamination

As production of Cannabis in Colorado continues to grow, the threat of fungal and bacterial contamination grows as well. Colorado treats Cannabis like many other products sold for human consumption. Strict limits are set for two bacteria, Shigatoxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) and Salmonella enterica. A sample can fail if a single live cell of these bacteria is detected. Additionally, total counts of yeasts and molds (TYM) are required by the state with a limit of 10,000 CFU/g (Colony Forming Unit). This is a fairly strict limit considering that testing can detect any aerobic yeast or mold on your product. Since Cannabis is a non-sterile product, the natural population of these organisms can be quite high and careful cultivation practices must be employed to control TYM levels. PhytaTechSM has established protocols that allow us to test your products for the all state-mandated microbial organisms with speed and reliability.


PhytaTechSM has certified plating methods for testing of total yeast and mold counts.

Cannabis Testing plating methods for total yeast and mold counts.


Cannabis product contaminants

Current bacterial testing uses plating and culturing methodologies, where a known mass of Cannabis is diluted in a neutral buffer to extract microbes from the plant surface. The buffer is spread on plates with a growth medium specific to the class of organism being detected. After incubation, colonies are counted by a technician and used to estimate the total level of microbial presence in the sample.

We have introduced modern molecular methods to more quickly and precisely quantify the specific bacterial contaminants in Cannabis products. With quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction (qPCR), we test your products for all bacteria as required by Colorado, in 24-36 hours. We enrich the aerobic bacterial community from your sample, then extract its DNA and target DNA sequences specific to the pathogens we are testing for. qPCR allows us to exponentially copy these sequences – or amplify them – over time. This process allows us to detect a single live cell per gram of product.
PhytaTechSM is utilizing Rapid Yeast and Mold Petrifilms for total yeast and mold counts that can yield results in 2-3 days, much quicker than the average of 5 days required for conventional yeast and mold culturing techniques. PhytaTechSM is also investigating the use of PCR to quantify total yeast and mold.


PhytaTechSM is able to increase accuracy and precision while letting you get your product to market much faster, contact us to learn more.


PhytaTechSM is certified by the CO MED & CDPHE for Potency Testing, Residual Solvent Testing and Microbial Contamination Testing.