5 Key Reasons Why Cannabis Brands Need Shelf Life and Stability Testing

5 Key Reasons Why Cannabis Brands Need Shelf Life and Stability Testing

In this post:

  • What is a shelf-life study?
  • How is shelf-life stability different?
  • 5 reasons brands must test for shelf life

Nothing lasts forever. That’s true for all perishable goods, including cannabis and hemp. So, to avoid consumer safety issues, brands must educate about proper storage methods and environmental degradation risks. The best way for brands to do this is to submit shelf life and stability testing samples to a reliability laboratory.

Shelf life and stability tests aren’t FDA-required, but they’re still an essential step for any discerning cannabis brand. These tests can provide valuable information about how long products will last under normal conditions. Brands can then inform their customers about best practices for preserving their products’ quality.

What is a Shelf-Life Study?

Shelf-life studies test the amount of time a cannabis product will last in an unopened state. The intention is to assess how long a product can stay “on the shelf” under optimal storage conditions. Essentially, shelf life determines how long a product will remain in an optimal state and can determine expiration or best-by dates.

ACS Laboratory tests for shelf life at 3, 6, and 12 months to assess how long a product will retain its taste, smell, and moisture content and evaluate the potency of cannabinoids over time.

How is Shelf-Life Stability Different?

Shelf stability tests assess how long a product will remain stable at room temperature. These studies usually apply to cannabis products with unstable ingredients or high moisture content, like edibles, oils, or beverages. Based on the results, the brand can determine how long its product will retain optimal taste, smell, and moisture content before dangerous bacterial growth or degradation begins.

ACS Laboratory conducts both real-time and accelerated shelf-life stability tests for cannabis products. A real-time test assesses how products will react under recommended storage temperature conditions for a specific period, like 3, 6, or 12 months.

An accelerated shelf-life stability test uses advanced chambers to accelerate the aging process by storing a product under high-stress conditions. This test can predict recommended storage by determining the degradation rate.

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Five Key Reasons Why Cannabis Brands Must Test for Shelf Life and Shelf Stability

By providing reliable shelf life and shelf stability tests, brands can provide consumers with reliable “best-by” dates and storage recommendations. Consumers will then know how much time they have to enjoy a product, minimizing safety risks and maximizing the user experience.

Here are five key reasons why a brand shouldn’t skip these essential tests.

1. Consumer Safety

Every cannabis brand wants customers to enjoy its products in their optimal state. That means consumers need education on best-by dates and storage conditions to avoid potential health risks.

For example, high-moisture products like edibles are vulnerable to bacterial contamination and mold growth. Testing for shelf life and stability demonstrates that a brand takes consumer safety seriously.

2. Cannabinoid Degradation

The plant’s most popular compounds, CBD and THC, can lose their potency over time. Some even degrade into other compounds under certain storage conditions. For example, THC can become CBN when exposed to air or UV light.

CBD can even convert into Delta 8 or Delta 9 in acidic environments. These mutations can radically alter the product’s cannabinoid profile and customer experience.

Fortunately, through stability testing, manufacturers and brands can learn how and when cannabinoid degradations occur. With that information, they can improve internal storage and packaging methods. Additionally, they then market products with accurate best-by-dates and storage recommendations, including light and temperature guidance.

3. Preserve Terpenes

Just like cannabinoids, terpenes evaporate or degrade over time. However, terpenes are even more volatile and must be handled with greater care and environmental sensitivity.

A cannabis product can lose its smell, taste, effects, and therapeutic profile without terpenes, so it’s essential to keep them intact. Reliable shelf-life testing can inform brands how and when terpenes will begin to degrade.

4. Regulatory Compliance

Some state jurisdictions require shelf stability testing for products like edibles. For example, Denver, Colorado, requires shelf stability testing for edible cannabis products. Florida also requires that medical cannabis edibles include an expiration date. Testing with a reliable laboratory ensures brands can comply with local regulations and exceed pharmaceutical standards for safety.

5. Better Packaging Decisions

Cannabis packaging is one of the most critical decisions a brand can make. Why? Bottles, boxes, and cartridges are responsible for keeping products safe from microbial, chemical, and physical contamination.

Improper packaging could contribute to lowered shelf stability or contamination risks. For example, certain packaging materials interact poorly with oils, creating a safety risk for consumers. Shelf life and shelf stability testing can help brands and manufacturers choose the best material to preserve the longevity of their products.

Cannabis Shelf Life and Stability Testing - the Takeaway

While not required by federal law, shelf life and shelf stability testing show consumers that a brand is serious about its commitment to quality. Those who prioritize consumer safety and product efficacy will lead the way in raising industry standards.

ACS Laboratory offers reliable shelf-life and shelf stability tests for cannabis and hemp products like smokable flowers, extracts and concentrates, and edibles. The tests cover qualitative quantities like color, smell, and PH level and quantitative aspects like moisture content, water activity, and potency. Learn more about how to submit a sample for testing on our website.

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The Cannabinoids Guide

This complete cannabinoid guide covers major and minor cannabinoids, how they work in the body, and highlights the top compounds brands and operators must test for today.
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The Cannabinoid Guide

The definitive resource on leading major and minor cannabinoids, how they work in the body, and what to test for.
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