Hygiene management in medical cannabis is critical across the entire supply chain of the industry. This is the first blog for Initial about the growing cannabis industry in SA.
It wasn’t too long ago that Cannabis was only ever referred to as dope, pot, weed, or dagga – and only associated with being high or stoned. Today we look at Cannabis from a different perspective: we’re looking to find ways of using these miracle plant extracts to relieve ailments such as chronic pain, anxiety, regulate diabetes, and help in the fight against certain cancers.
While research is ongoing regarding the benefits and uses of cannabis and CBD oils, the industry continues to grow rapidly. An article late last year said that even the large tobacco companies are trying to move away from only supplying traditional tobacco cigarettes and include CBD in vaping.
Growing Cannabis in South Africa
In South Africa we’ve seen many new applications to produce cannabis for export purposes, but … it’s not as easy as finding a piece of land and growing the plant. This is a highly regulated industry and according to a report by Landbouweekblad, “the estimated cost of a setting up a facility and preparing an application will cost aspirant dagga cultivators between R3m and R5m”.
So while this is a very lucrative business to get into, it’s also very costly and the process is long. But, in the recent 2022 SONA “The president said, the government would be looking to ease policies to help the hemp and cannabis sectors grow in South Africa. He highlighted that South Africans have already been farming the products, saying smoking the plants would soon not be the only way they are used.”
So what’s all this got to do with Rentokil Initial you may be asking?
Hygiene management in the medical cannabis industry
In the Cannabis industry, there’s a huge focus on cleanliness and hygiene across the entire supply chain – from cultivation, manufacturing, testing, distribution, delivery, retail and everything in between.
That’s why the cultivation of cannabis for medicinal and export purposes follow the strict guidelines of SAHPRA which include GMC and GACP compliance, as well as SA legislation as per DALRRD, and current global standards.
The South African cannabis industry has seen huge growth and success very recently where a local Cape Town company exported tissue culture to Israel, and before that, dry cannabis flower buds to Switzerland. Huge strides are being made in this industry which puts SA in a good position for growth.
The experts in our field
In both our Rentokil and Initial businesses we understand the need for the strictest pest control, hygiene and medical solutions in highly regulated environments.
The SAHPRA guidance document says: “Buildings must be designed in a manner that protects crops against pests and domestic animals.”, and “Decontamination of the storage area to combat pests must be carried out only where necessary and by authorized personnel.”
Rentokil’s pest principle begins with excluding and restricting pest entry points and access to food sources. Excluding and restricting pests like rodents or flies from a growing facility is imperative in this industry as pests can destroy a crop, contaminate or spread disease. Pesticides and chemicals are used sparingly, and non-toxic baits and traps are used where possible.
Rentokil’s myRentokil online platform allows our customers the visibility to keep up to date with the services completed on-site, and recommendations provided by our teams, all from a virtual platform. From your home or office (or even when you’re on holiday) you could access your site maps, check on the status of services done, view the recommendations made by our technical teams and even analyse trends. The myRentokil online platform is ISO27001 certified, which is an international standard for information security management and this means that you can have complete confidence that your data is secure.
Hygiene levels in the Cannabis industry need to adhere to strict medical regulations and regular audits are carried out. Protective clothing must be worn in designated areas and all personnel entrusted with handling herbal material must maintain proper personal hygiene to ensure that the quality of processing, manufacturing, and production of Cannabis and Cannabis-related products are not compromised.
Initial are the experts in hygiene and our high standards of hygiene and cleanliness will keep your bathrooms and staff facilities germ-free and reduce the risk of cross-contamination in your facility. Our range of soaps includes SANS approved hand hygiene soaps and sanitisers for the food and beverage and medical industries. There can’t be anything worse than working in such a highly regulated hygienic environment and having a smelly bathroom or one that does not provide adequate hand hygiene solutions for their employees.
In some cases cannabis growers install hand sanitising units at the entrances of the grow rooms and use fly screens and curtains inside the entrances, as well as sanitising ‘foot baths’ or mats to decontaminate the soles of your shoes before entering.
At Rentokil Initial, we can even disinfect the vehicle transporting your packed goods – making sure your product is protected right up until it reaches the retailer.
Air quality in cannabis production
Air quality is an important topic since the COVID-19 pandemic and is equally important in some grow rooms. Fans are sometimes used to regulate airflow and humidity. Without these airflow systems, grow rooms can become a breeding ground for pathogens and pests.
Some larger cannabis cultivators use HEPA grade filters to filter incoming air along with their heating, ventilation and HVAC systems. At Initial, we understand the movement of air and the importance for us to breath clean air. VIRUSKILLER™ air purification units can kill 99.9999% of viruses in a single air pass. Installing these units will improve your air quality and stop the airborne transmission of pathogens, moulds, fungi and so on. Can these units help in reducing the infection in growing plants?
Medical waste disposal
Disposing of medical waste is a high priority in this industry. With so many disturbing news articles about medical waste being disposed of in open fields or dump sites (which is not only unhygienic and dangerous for waste pickers, but also unethical) Initial can offer full cradle to grave traceability of medical and pharmaceutical waste.
Our Pharmaceutical waste disposal service includes the disposal of schedule 1 to schedule 7 medications, and we also have separate disposal units for sharps, soft or clinical tissue and contaminated food waste to suit your requirements.
Whether you’re growing cannabis for the export market or for the manufacture of medicinal supplements, Initial can take care of your hygiene needs. Contact Initial to book your free hygiene survey and learn more about our services or how we can support you