Mold, labeling errors cause rash of cannabis recalls in Canada

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A number of cannabis recalls over labeling errors and mold is a sign that the federal health department’s regulatory oversight is working, an industry representative said.

Seven notices involving cannabis have been posted to Health Canada’s recall portal since Oct. 17; no recall notices were posted in the nine months prior to the national adult-use launch.

(The last recall before legalization was when Leamington, Ontario-based Aphria issued the voluntary recall for two lots of dried marijuana due to a labeling error in January 2018.)

“Some cases of mold and contamination of product have resulted in recalls of some products and batches,” said Allan Rewak, executive director of the Cannabis Canada Council.

“So the fact that we have seen recalls is a sign that the oversight is working, ensuring a consistent quality product and protecting the health can safety of Canadians,” he said.

The group’s membership accounts for roughly 80% of Canada’s licensed cultivation in terms of square footage.

The most recent recall came Feb. 4 when Aurora Cannabis recalled 2,180 units of cannabis product sold between Dec. 14, 2018 and Jan. 28, 2019, in Alberta and Quebec.

In that instance, CBD capsules and a dried cannabis strain were sold with incorrect labels on the outside of their boxes.

The recall noted that consumption of affected products may cause unexpected effects due to a greater quantity of THC.

“To date, Aurora received three complaints related to the recalled lots. Aurora has received one adverse reaction report regarding the ‘CBD caps’ product. Health Canada has not received any complaints related to the recalled lots,” according to the notice.

Health Canada recall guide

Health Canada recently published the first guide to promote compliance with recall requirements and helps license holders understand their role in a voluntary recall.

Read the full “Cannabis Voluntary Recall Guide” here.

The guide is applicable to the following federal cannabis license and permit holders:

  • Cultivator (nurseries, standard and micro)
  • Processor (standard and micro)
  • Sales
  • Analytical testing
  • Research
  • Import (medical, research and hemp)
  • Export (medical, research and hemp)

Health Canada says the new guide provides information on requirements to:

  • Establish and maintain a system of control for the recall of cannabis or cannabis products.
  • Keep sale, distribution and export records for cannabis or cannabis products.
  • Report voluntary recalls of cannabis or cannabis products to Health Canada.
  • Conduct a voluntary recall of cannabis or cannabis products.

Recalls since October 2018

CannTrust recalled approximately 714 units of Liiv THC cannabis oil sold in New Brunswick between Jan. 4 and Jan. 17. No complaints have been received by the health regulator.

Earlier in January, Up Cannabis recalled about 1,428 units of Eldo dried cannabis sold in Alberta.

“The affected product may contain mold. In certain individuals, exposure to mold can result in allergic symptoms such as sneezing, coughing, wheezing, runny nose or nasal congestion, and watery eyes or itchy eyes,” according to the recall notice.

The product was sold between Nov. 29, 2018, and Jan. 4, 2019.

Also in January, a labeling error prompted CannTrust to issue a voluntary recall for a cannabis oil sold in 40 milliliter bottles.

Bonify recalled approximately 5,883 units of product on Dec. 24 due to labeling errors and record-keeping issues with production documents that may not meet the requirements under the Cannabis Regulations.

Other recalls include:

Health Canada later suspended Bonify’s authority to sell marijuana after an investigation found the Winnipeg-based firm possessed, distributed and sold product purchased from an illegal source.

Matt Lamers can be reached at [email protected]

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