Cannabis Science Conference Spring Coverage: Polysorbate 80: An Emulsifying Agent in Cannabis Microbiology

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Anthony Repay, Laboratory Director of Method Testing Labs, presents his talk in the Analytical Track on Day 1 of the Cannabis Science Conference in Kansas City, Missouri, about the intricacies of polysorbate 80 and how it can be used as an emulsifying agent in cannabis microbiology.

Taking place on Day 1 in the Analytical Track at the Cannabis Science Conference in Kansas City, Missouri, Anthony Repay who works for Method Testing Labs as a Laboratory Director, explained to attendees his recent study which tackled two questions:

  • Can Polysorbate 80 extract cannabis distillate into solution?
  • Does this environment offer favorable survival conditions for microorganisms?

In Repay’s talk titled, “Polysorbate 80: An Emulsifying Agent in Cannabis Microbiology”, he weighed 1 gram of the sample to assess the effectiveness of polysorbate 80 in extracting matrix into the solution. The next step was to quantify Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC) where the response following was from a modified AOAC Official Method of Analysis 2018.11.

The study showed that there was a significant association with polysorbate 80 percentage and concentration. “With every percent increase of polysorbate 80 associated with a mean increase of 76 (95% CI: 43, 110) in the analysis data, and a mean increase of 159 (95% CI: 131, 188) in the full data,” Repay explained.

Concluding his presentation, Repay shared the implications of how his research data was used with cannabis, "Aspergillus flavus, Escherichia coli O157:H7, and Staphylococcus aureus showed no significant impact from the increasing concentration of polysorbate 80.​ Candida albicans, although non-significant upon initial assessment, warrants further investigation with additional data points, especially within middle concentrations, to observe and analyze any potential linear relationship​. Lastly, increasing levels of polysorbate 80 demonstrated a decreasing effect on CFU count for Listeria monocytogenes."

In this interview with Cannabis Science and Technology, Anthony Repay discussed his recent preliminary data in his study that was conducted using polysorbate 80 as an emulsifying agent in cannabis microbiology.


Repay hopes that, “people walk away questioning are we testing concentrates correctly? At the end of the day, I always say that it, it's our job for consumer safety. We, our number one goal is consumer safety. And we I want to make sure that what we test is an accurate, quantifiable result that we can legally defend. And I think just by going through some of these discussions and experiments,it's just going to help. I think in cannabis, we get, you know, it's rapid, it's fast, and we're evolving and all of these, there's new matrices.”