Niagara College students use science, technology to build a better cannabis cupcake

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Published October 21, 2021 at 3:56 pm

It sounds like a dream gig for many college students. Or at least, the ultimate combination of academics and recreation.

Students at Niagara College are looking to use applied science and technology to build better, safer cannabis gummie bears, cupcakes and brownies.

Through the Niagara College Cannabis Edibles Applied Research initiative, Marc Nantel, the Vice-President for Research and External Relations said that the college “has the team to produce and teach cannabis production practices, and perform applied research projects with the cannabis and related industries in the areas of food and beverage product development and food safety.”

Because cannabis edibles were not okayed by Health Canada until October 2019, Nantel said the college believes there is a lack of validated scientific knowledge for the infusion, stability, degradation and interaction of cannabis in foods and beverages and a critical void that needs filling to de-risk the research and product development process for companies.

Canadian Food & Wine Institute (CWFI) Innovation Centre Senior Food Scientist Ana Cristina Vega-Lugo explains the research will provide scientific knowledge to help the burgeoning industry and give consumers an idea of what to expect when using cannabis products.

“Understanding how the cannabinoids behave in different media and food matrices is crucial to success in developing safe, stable and consistent cannabis edibles,” said Vega-Lugo. “At the same time, we are dedicated to contributing to advancing the body of scientific knowledge around this evolving market.”

And there could be some benefits to students outside the research in that it may need volunteers to come in and help out.

Just as the College’s Cannabis Edibles Applied Research initiative supports the food and beverage industry, the research projects themselves also contribute to the experiential learning opportunities for students, said Lyndon Ashton, CFWI Innovation Centre Manager.

“The CFWI Innovation Centre routinely hires students as research assistants, who work alongside highly qualified experts and industry partners,” added Ashton. “These research activities, especially in an emergent industry, provide unmatched career-ready advantages.”

Added Krystle Grimaldi, the college’s Director, of Research & Innovation, “Conducting cannabis edibles R&D for the food and beverage sector is a natural extension of the successful applied research that has been ongoing through our Agriculture & Environmental Technologies Innovation Centre and with the College’s School of Horticulture, Commercial Cannabis Production program for the cannabis industry.”

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