Meet the Experts: Alex Blanchette
Here at CBDistillery® we know that taking charge of your health and wellness is a daunting task and it's sometimes overwhelming to know whose recommendations to rely upon.
Transparency is key to our approach in every aspect of our business, which is why we wanted to introduce a series of conversations with CBDistillery® staff as well as other experts in their fields. We hope that these conversations will offer more information about our company and products and help foster trust in our products.
For our latest edition, Content Strategist Adrian Crawford sat down with CBDistillery® Quality Assurance Director Alex Blanchette to discuss the challenges presented by quality control in the cannabis industry and what the future holds.
Adrian Crawford: First things first. Can you give me an idea of what the role of Quality Assurance Director entails?
Alex Blanchette: At the highest level, my job is to ensure that our products are safe for our customers. This includes overseeing our internal programs, such as sanitation, traceability, allergen management, equipment calibrations, etc. We have over 60 of these programs to ensure we are meeting regulatory requirements. The Quality Department also manages our third-party testing program to test all our finished products for potency, micro, heavy metals, residual solvents, and pesticides to meet state requirements for hemp products.
AC: Next up, the origin story. What first sparked your pursuit of a career in quality assurance and what has the journey been like along the way?
AB: I spent most of my career in QA for food manufacturing. Seeing the difference that good QA programs make in a company is very satisfying and can’t really be understated. The hemp industry used to be a bit of the Wild West but is now developing into a much more mature industry with more and more companies doing things the right way.
AC: When it comes to the cannabinoid industry, what are the challenges we face as a business in relation to quality control and testing?
AB: We’ve done a lot of work to set up reliable supply chains, which wasn’t easy. There are still a lot of companies that aren’t following state regulations. Testing is expensive but we have a responsibility to our customers and want to be transparent about our products.
AC: The FDA doesn’t currently have a regulatory structure in place for CBD. How did we as a company settle upon standards that would satisfy the goal of providing high-quality products?
AB: We’re focused on making sure that we follow FDA’s current regulatory requirements so that when we are regulated, we will be ready to meet whatever standards are given to us. We also use the standards that individual states have put in place to guide us on things like testing requirements. Our manufacturing facility undergoes annual audits by NSF so we have a third-party opinion on how well our systems are operating.
AC: What does the quality assurance and testing process look like for our CBD products? Does it start at the hemp farming level?
AB: Our testing starts with our suppliers. We maintain a vigorous supplier approval program to vet all potential suppliers. We require a COA for all incoming items and then we sample and retest to ensure accurate lab results. There are quality check points throughout our entire manufacturing process and finished products are tested for potency, micro, heavy metals, residual solvents, and pesticides.
AC: What do you think the future holds for the cannabinoid wellness industry?
I’m looking forward to more scientific research to back up claims and more regulatory oversight to weed out bad players.