Edible marijuana products from Denver-based At Home Baked, including infused mixes for brownies and other desserts, are subject to a product recall issued by Denver's health department on July 17. (Hyoung Chang, Denver Post file)

Edibles recall: At Home Baked’s use of washing machine for hash questioned

A popular Denver-based brand of marijuana-infused edibles was recalled by the Denver Department of Environmental Health on July 17 because of the “possible contamination from unsanitary equipment” and “use of equipment not intended for food manufacturing,” according to the department’s Public Health Inspections Division.

The manufacturer of the recalled edibles, At Home Baked, operates on the same state marijuana license as dispensary group Advanced Medical Alternatives.

“We’re really frustrated with the entire situation,” said A.J. Ashkar, the co-owner of At Home Baked who is known in the Denver marijuana industry as A.J. Hashman. “They came in and the machine which we were utilizing to make water hash was not a food-safe machine. Food-safe machines to make water hash do not exist. They deemed the water hash that we were making unfit for human consumption even though nobody has gotten sick from our hash.”

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The Department of Environmental Health verified that there haven’t been any reports of illness yet, but a food safety inspection was the reason for the recall.

Ashkar had been using a modified washing machine to activate his water hash — a common practice in the industry “to get the centrifugal action that is essential to water hash,” said Ashkar, also known for his popular marijuana meet-and-greets in Denver and Colorado Springs.

“My business partner and I both have culinary backgrounds, food service backgrounds, and we look at water hash as a concentrate — not a food,” Ashkar said. “But they say as soon as you start working with it with a food as the intent or end result, it is a food.”

In June, Ashkar received a variance from the state through September to find a food-safe alternative, and he purchased a Bubble Magic machine he hopes will satisfy their regulations. In the meantime the state demanded that he recall all products made in his old washing machine.

The At Home Baked products that were recalled on July 17 include its infused brownie mixes, blondie mixes, rice krispy treats and Stixx candy.

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“Please pull our products off your shelf and place in the back room and contact me … to replace them,” At Home Baked published on its Facebook page on July 16. “So sorry for the inconvenience and we look forward to restocking you ASAP once we have more info and a time frame.”

At Home Baked will replace all products in question or refund purchases, Ashkar said.

The Department of Environmental Health is saying that any of the above At Home Baked products should be “removed from retail shelves and destroyed immediately pursuant to State medical and retail marijuana regulations.”

But what does this mean for At Home Baked as a business?

“It’s an extremely difficult blow,” Ashkar said. “It’ll be difficult to keep our head above water.”