Consumers have a lot of choices when it comes to selecting a CBD product, and many first-time customers face some difficult questions. What type of product is best? How many milligrams of CBD? How can I tell if the quality is good? What company should I trust? Thankfully, some companies who advocate for greater transparency within the CBD industry have made publishing their own products Certificates of Analysis (COAs) to the public a common practice. Selecting a high-quality product becomes much easier once you know what to look for within the COA. Here are our best tips on how to read and interpret the information contained within a COA to help you make a better-informed choice.
What's a COA?
A Certificate of Analysis is a document from an accredited laboratory that shows the test results of a product. A COA is a necessary measure of checking quality assurance for a company's product, while also being useful for the consumer to verify product labeling and claim accuracy. A COA may contain results from a panel that has tested for:
- Cannabinoid count (including CBD concentration)
- THC amount
- Presence of pesticides
- Presence of residual solvents
- Presence of mycotoxins, mold, or bacteria
- Presence of heavy metals
- Terpene analysis
COAs are essential for manufacturers to ensure that their test results align with their product's labeling. There's an unfortunate epidemic within the industry of dishonest companies intentionally mislabelling their products. Consumers should do their due diligence to protect themselves and always check a company's Certificate of Analysis, usually found on the company's website. If the company does not have it listed on the website or refuses to provide one when asked, it's best to steer clear.
What are the most important tests on a COA?
COAs may vary in testing profiles, depending on what the manufacturer decides to test. More tests are always better. Wouldn't you want to have the most information available on your product? While every test is valuable, here are the most important things to look for:
- Check for the CBD amount. Does it match the bottle's listing and what is claimed on the company's product description online? The COA will list the CBD amount in milligrams (mg). It will also show CBD milligrams per 1 milliliter (ml) and the amount of CBD milligrams present in the entire bottle, usually by percentage. On occasion, COAs will show CBD levels that are slightly higher than the stated amount. It is not unusual to see this, and slightly elevated amounts are generally regarded as acceptable. What to look out for as a red flag: CBD levels that are lower than what is advertised.
- Check for THC levels. Full-spectrum CBD products should have THC concentrations of less than 0.3 %. If the product's THC amount tests at levels higher than 0.3%, then it is considered a marijuana product and it may not be legal in your state. A full-spectrum product will also contain levels of other cannabinoids like CBG, CBDa, CBC, and CBN. It's especially important to make sure that THC-free claims are accurate. A THC-free product should have THC levels of 0.
- Check to see if the product gets a "Pass" or "Fail" for residual solvents, pesticides, heavy metals, and microbial impurities. Passing levels meet the legal limits. A failing status indicates that the product contains amounts that fall over the legal restriction, and that the product may be unsafe for consumption.
- Check the overall batch result. Did the product "Pass" or "Fail"? Pass or fail status should be listed at the top of the COA and be easy to find.
Other things to look out for: Make sure the lab name is on the top of the certificate with a physical address. The lab should be a state-licensed testing laboratory. The COA should have an official signature from the accredited testing facility. Be sure to confirm that the CBD company's name, name of the product, and date of the test is on the COA.
Why are COAs important?
COAs help to weed out bad players and low-quality products within the industry and help protect consumers. While a company may provide a COA created in-house, it's vitally important that a third-party laboratory conducts a COA as well. A company may cut costs by doing the tests themselves, but the tests may contain bias or could be flat-out dishonest. For complete reassurance that a product has been impartially tested and is safe to consume, a COA from an accredited third-party is crucial. If the CBD company cannot provide this, there may be a particular reason why they may not want to offer it.
At HempLand USA, we always use a third-party accredited lab to guarantee every product’s quality, potency, and purity. We make these available on each product page. HempLand USA is where Purity Matters™, and we take our role as an industry advocate for higher quality and greater transparency very seriously. As a consumer, you deserve to know exactly what's in your product and an assurance that you're consuming the safest and highest quality CBD available.