Molds are a group of fungal growths that require moisture and organic matter to feed upon. There are hundreds of thousands of species of mold. It is estimated that upwards of 30 percent of people are allergic to mold and suffer adverse health affects because of it. Certain molds are pathogenic, meaning they are able to infect and cause disease in a human being.
When a mold spore activates, it begins to grow outward in the direction of food and moisture. At Steep Hill Lab, molds are cultured on petri dishes filled with several different media. in a petri dish, food and moisture are present equally in all directions, so a spore will grow outward in concentric circles from the center. This is called a Colony Forming Unit or CFU. A CFU is the basic unit all Steep Hill Mold results are presented in.
When screening for mold, Steep Hill Lab uses a one gram sample. In order to get the best results it is important to select a sample that is as representative of the batch being tested as possible. This means not selecting only one bud from the batch being being sampled. This will provide a more effective screen, and generate results more representative of the batch in question. All results reported to a customer will be in CFU/gram. This is a standard metric used by many labs.
There is no current consensus on how many CFU/g of which molds or bacteria are acceptable. Below are three separate sets of guidelines, from three separate organizations. Notice that any amount of E. Coli is considered too much. Click images to enlarge.
Notice that the least stringent guidelines are the recommendations set forth by the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA). This is because AHPA is a industry trade group representing the herbal products industry. Whereas the World Health Organization and the European Pharmacopoeia are more strictly concerned with patient safety, AHPA represents the interests of the herbal products industry. In the interest of patient safety, Steep Hill Lab recommends following the more stringent guidelines. In the absence of industry wide standards, each collective will have to decide for themselves which guidelines are appropriate for their patients. At a minimum, patients with AIDS, Leukemia, or any other immune compromising disease should be steered clear of molds approaching higher contamination thresholds. Steep Hill Lab is an associate member of the American Herbal Products Association, and is a member of the Cannabis Committee. We are committed to establishing standards that balance the interests of patient safety, and the commercial viability of our client collectives.