Microbial Detection Solutions for Cannabis Testing

With increasing state-level adoption of medicinal and recreational cannabis legislation across the United States, and federal legalization internationally, a need has emerged for microbial detection of pathogens. Consumers now have access to cannabis edibles and inhalables for consumption prompting a need for strict monitoring of finished goods analogous to those methods adopted in food manufacturing.

Aspergillus, Salmonella and STEC (Shiga-toxin producing Escherichia coli) bacteria are of particular concern with regard to cannabis products. These bacteria can cause illnesses and infections to users and pose serious risk to those with compromised immune systems. Due to the concerning health impacts relating to pathogen exposure, laboratories are challenged to find effective and efficient screening methods. Bio-Rad has established itself as a global leader in food safety with a portfolio of microbial detection methods that have received accreditations from AOAC and AFNOR. These methods have been successfully adapted to screen cannabis for Aspergillus, Salmonella and STEC.

Microbial Testing

CFX Opus and software

Microbial Testing with PCR: iQ-Check Real-Time PCR Kits

The Bio-Rad iQ-Check Solution takes full advantage of real-time PCR to provide a fast and reliable method for cannabis pathogen testing.

The iQ-Check Kits are based on gene amplification and detection by the use of real-time PCR. Ready-to-use PCR reagents contain everything needed to detect targeted pathogens with high sensitivity and specificity.

The iQ-Design Aspergillus Identification assay serves as an optional tool to further speciate Aspergillus positive samples to comply with state regulations. With overall low presumptive positive rates, this solution delivers significant cost savings to your lab by allowing you to screen out negative samples first. Click here to calculate savings.

iQ-Check Free DNA Removal Solution (FDRS) can easily be integrated into iQ-Check DNA extraction workflows, providing an ideal way to remove free DNA from your samples prior to PCR analysis.

iQ-Check Purification Reagent improves efficiency of the iQ-Check Real-Time PCR Kit by removing inhibition from challenging matrices containing high levels of polyphenols.

Key Benefits

  • Faster results with a single enrichment and next day results
  • Easy to use thanks to a simple DNA extraction and ready-to-use reagents
  • Harmonized enrichment protocols for Salmonella/STEC
  • Increase efficiency with an open instrument platform and run parallel with other iQ-Check Tests
  • Reduce risks thanks to positive and negative PCR controls and Internal inhibition control

As molecular methods for pathogen detection continue to improve, emerging pathogens are being described around the world in molecular terms. The use of real-time PCR methods has the benefit of automation, high sensitivity, high precision, and accuracy, plus the flexibility to simultaneously test for more than one pathogen. Bio-Rad's testing solutions undergo both internal and external validations and certifications including AOAC, AFNOR, NordVal, Health Canada, Nesval, Coca-Cola, and others.

PCR Automation

The iQ-Check Prep PCR Automation Solution is dedicated to running the complete range of iQ-Check PCR Test Kits for food pathogen detection on Bio-Rad's CFX96 Deep Well Real-Time PCR Detection System, providing a powerful solution for your high-throughput food testing lab.


Microbial Testing with RAPID'Chromogenic Media

RAPID'Chromogenic Media are a complete range of highly selective chromogenic media designed to detect and enumerate a variety of microorganisms in cannabis samples. They offer economical, labor-saving protocols and provide a shorter time to results than classical methods. In addition, the combination of the selected chromogenic mixture and high-quality raw material allows a high level of contrast, high selectivity, and high sensitivity, making the plates easy to read.


  • Detection or enumeration protocol
  • Easy to use
  • Economical solutions
  • Easy-to-read chromogenic reaction

Also available are standard media for
quality indicators.

iQ-Check Real-Time PCR Solution: A Simple Four-Step Protocol

This flexible and robust protocol fits seamlessly any analytical lab workflow to reach the best productivity: from low to high throughput testing, with ease of use and a unique user interface, get efficient sample status interpretation.

  • Enrich Sample

    Enrichment allows the targeted bacteria in a sample to reach a concentration high enough to be detected reliably and repeatedly. Enrichment is a common practice in many fields of microbiology and eliminating this step introduces a level of risk into the protocol. Enrich samples using Peptone Water Broth (225 ml x 6 bottles or 500 g).

  • Extract DNA

    Extract DNA from your enriched samples with one of our Food PCR Testing Kits.

  • DNA Amplification by PCR

    Amplify extracted DNA to an amount suitable for further analysis. Using the CFX96 Touch Deep Well Real-Time PCR System will deliver sensitive five-color multiplex performance, and can run up to 96 tests at once.

  • Data Analysis of Amplified DNA by PCR

    Collect, analyze, and report PCR data. Bio-Rad's CFX Manager Software, IDE provides easy-to-use sample setup and automated analysis of results.



Cannabis Analytical Science Program (CASP) Logo

Within the scope of international validation authorities, the performance of our methods are verified by third party laboratories following strict guidelines demonstrating their optimal accuracy and quality. AOAC has launched the Cannabis Analytical Science Program (CASP) to identify priority analytical needs and provide solutions for regulators, industry, and consumers by developing globally accepted consensus-based standards and testing methods for hemp, cannabis, and cannabis-related ingredients/products.

iQ-Check PRC Methods

NF Validation by AFNOR Certification



Health Canada

E.coli O157:H7    
Listeria monocytogenes
Salmonella spp. OMA**
STEC virulence genes*      
STEC 7 major O-groups*      
Chromogenic Media
RAPID'E.coli 2
RAPID'E.coli O157:H7    

Cannabis badges* USDA No Objection Letter
** Official Method of Analysis First Action, 2017.06
*** Aspergillus speciation kits available



What is it like Being a Bio-Rad Customer in the Cannabis Industry?

Alex Tudor gives her feedback and tells you what her laboratory has gained while working with Bio-Rad's products. She also describes, in her own words, her relationship with Bio-Rad's sales team.


Customer Interview

Meeting the Need for Accurate Cannabis Microbial Testing
(Article from Food Safety Magazine, PDF 280 KB)

Cannabis is increasingly becoming legal at the state level in the U.S., for medical or recreational use. A central question is how to ensure the safety of a new product that is not covered under any existing federal safety guidelines. Read how Bio-Rad partnered with CW Analytical to serve the cannabis industry.

Real-Time PCR for Cutting-Edge Food Testing
(Article from Food Safety Magazine)