With the FDA’s deeming regulations looming, experts advise that vape store owners should prioritize their supply of those e-juice lines that are in a position to comply, and not only to maintain some continuity of inventory once the regulations hit. Undoubtedly, the deeming regulations will result in mandatory standards for the manufacture of e-liquids, which will actually be very beneficial for consumers. Let’s explore three characteristics of premium e-liquid that every e-juice company should pursue without excuse or delay, and that every vape store would do well to ask suppliers about.
Certified cleanrooms to prevent contamination
The air in cleanrooms is controlled for particulate matter, contributing to an environment free of air-borne contaminates at all times. The air that enters is filtered to create an environment free of dust, while there is a continual circulation of the air inside the cleanroom to account for and remove any other contaminants that could otherwise be present.
Cleanrooms are incredibly important for all e-juice manufacturers using food-grade ingredients and especially all-natural ingredients. Natural and/or organic ingredients are generally susceptible to bacterial contamination as moisture can function as a carrier for bacteria and other disease-causing pathogens. Contamination is intrinsically connected to GMPs, but the climate-controlled clean room is an added preventive measure, ensuring that bacteria, mold and fungus are deprived of the conditions in which they thrive.
This highlights another benefit of USDA-certified organic e-juice: while many vape companies claim to be organic through the use of mostly organic ingredients, is their manufacturing process guaranteed to be special-tailored and safe for the handling of those ingredients?
Adherence to GMPs
A cleanroom is one sign of a serious approach to a superior manufacturing environment, but good manufacturing practices (GMPs) are equally important. GMPs may vary across industries and oversee everything from the amount of times equipment must be cleaned and with what type of cleaning agent, to the extent of recordkeeping required, to the testing for quality control that ensures a clean final product. Essentially, the cleanroom is the context while the GMPs are the content.
Regarding the aforementioned susceptibility of food-grade ingredients to contamination, manufacturers of natural e-liquid lines can actually supersede the GMPs that govern the food industry, instead adhering to the more stringent GMPs of the personal care industry. For a pertinent example, personal care GMPs permit no more than 10 CFUs/ml of micros (contamination of bacteria, yeast, or mold), while foodstuff GMPs permit micro counts of CFU/ml in the hundreds of thousands. Further, personal care GMPs necessitate micro testing on every batch, ensuring a clean final product that consumers can feel secure about vaping.
SFATA has issued the following basic guidelines for the manufacture of e-liquids:
· Use only FDA certified “Generally Recognized as
Safe” (GRAS) for human ingestion products;
· Institute expert mixing processes, including
employee training and the use of clean rooms.
These guidelines are encouraged, not mandatory, but store-owners can easily do their own due diligence by supplying from companies that are required to adhere to stringent GMPs. Qualified third-party regulatory agencies can guarantee compliance with GMPs, marked by USDA certification or otherwise through industry-specific AEMSA membership.
Safe Packaging and Materials
At the end of January, President Obama signed the Child Nicotine Poisoning Prevention Act into law, which requires child-resistant packaging for all liquids containing nicotine. SFATA has been advocating for child-proof packaging for a couple of years now, and all of the companies which heeded that call have been shining examples of our industry’s responsible and sensible approach to harm reduction. The vape industry was founded on the premise of harm reduction, and ensuring that value trickles down to every detail is a good sign of a company’s integrity.
There is a wide spectrum of plastics available on the market, some of which are touted as eco-friendly and safe, while others contain harmful chemicals that can actually leech into e-liquids. I haven’t seen any e-juice company that uses plastic packaging offer consumers the disclaimer that it is “BPA-free,” though, as it turns out, the chemicals used to replace BPA in such products have been found to be just as harmful. It is no coincidence that almost every single company claiming to offer premium e-liquids uses glass bottle packaging. Amber (or other dark-tinted) glass bottles protect from potential sun damage and oxygen contamination with the result of more consistent and reliable products, as well as an enhanced shelf life.
Beyond packaging, the materials used throughout the production process likewise affect the quality of the final product. Stainless steel equipment is non-porous and therefore minimizes contamination from germs, while also ensuring that the flavor of e-liquid is not compromised. Keeping the use of plastic to an absolute bare minimum and ensuring it does not come into direct contact with the product not only ensures a high-quality e-liquid, but also helps reduce the negative impact plastic has on the environment.
Store-owners: supply products you believe in, can stand behind and vouch for. Support companies with a long-term vision—those who are here to serve the cause, rather than just to make a quick buck. Customers really appreciate it when you guide them to the best options imaginable and can answer all of their questions about ingredients, testing, and manufacturing conditions. As standards rise, in large part thanks to the increased awareness of consumers, and our responsibility through self-regulation becomes increasingly evident, we contribute to the continued success of our industry. SVBS
Sheerlie Ryngler is the Director of Operations and Creative Director at Vape Organics, the first certified organic e-liquid line. Sheerlie studied International Relations at UW-Madison and went on to graduate summa cum laude from the University of Haifa, where she received her MA in Conflict Resolution. She has been a passionate activist for a number of causes; for the past 1.5 years Sheerlie has focused her attention on the vape industry and believes that standards of excellence and commitment to progress are crucial to ensuring its continued success. Please feel free to contact Sheerlie at [email protected] or visit her website at www.pureorganicvapors.com.