As the hemp extract cbd market continues to explode, a large variety of products are quickly appearing on retailer shelves and online. Simply reading the product ingredients does not necessarily provide you a full picture about the product’s potency, purity or safety.

A Certificate of Analysis (commonly referred to as a “COA”) is key to answering that question to help you make a safe and informed choice.


Why is a COA Important?

While the FDA is currently working on industry standards for hemp extract cbd products, these regulations are not yet fully enacted into law. Also, states highly vary in their labelling and testing requirements for hemp extract cbd products. Until enough comprehensive laws are fully in effect to protect consumers, there will not be a nationwide consistency in both labelling, safety and product quality.

In an ideal world, when you purchase a CBD product, the product should contain the cannabinoids and other beneficial compounds advertised by the seller and be free of contaminants and toxic substances.

The rapid growth of this industry has sadly attracted some unsavoury players that are primarily entering the market for a quick profit and care little for quality or safety. Mislabelled products and dangerous synthetic knockoffs are commonly found online, in retail stores, and even in gas stations!

Indeed, in a study of 84 CBD products sold by 31 companies online in 2017, blind testing found that only about 31 percent of the products contained the amount of CBD listed on the label. Some products also contained higher amounts of THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana that creates an intoxicating high.

It is important for you, as the consumer, to research the safety, purity and potency of the products you intend to purchase. This is where a product’s COA becomes invaluable to you.

What is a COA?

When a batch for a hemp extract cbd product is produced, it should be tested for safety and purity. The laboratory that receives the product will run a small sample of the product through an advanced machine to determine what compounds are present in the product. This includes beneficial cannabinoids and terpenes, and dependent on the product type, includes other compounds that may be harmful, such as mycotoxins, heavy metals and/or pesticides, among others.

Once testing is complete, the laboratory issues a final report (the COA) of the above-mentioned testing results and indicates the presence and quantity of each detected substance and compound. This allows you to verify the content of the product and, most importantly, the safety of the product.

Reputable sellers will act with transparency.  A COA outlining product contents should be easily accessible and/or made available to you upon request and should be issued by a third-party accredited laboratory.


What are Third-Party Accredited Laboratories?

Third-party simply means that the laboratory is a separate entity from the company selling the hemp extract cbd products and has no influence on the outcome of product testing results.

Many states require a laboratory to be accredited. Even in states where this is not a requirement, it is still considered best practice. The accreditation organization sets higher standards for quality and safety, among others, and provides direct oversight over laboratories enrolled in their accreditation program. The laboratory is required to implement and maintain those higher standards and pass the accreditation organization’s mandatory inspection.

When a CBD seller chooses to submit their products to a third-party accredited laboratory, they’re ensuring a higher level of quality, transparency and unbiased verification of the product.

How to Find the COA for Your Product

There are a few methods to acquire the COA for your product. Some companies (like deep CBDs) include a library of product COAs on their website to allow you to research safety, potency, and purity before purchase with ease.

Many states (including Florida) also require companies to place a QR code on the product to assist you with locating the COA.  You simply scan the QR code with your phone camera to access the product’s COA. This is the easiest method if you are shopping in a physical retail location and online.

Another method is to search the seller’s COA repository hosted on a third-party website.

Whichever method is used, always make sure that the batch number on the COA matches the batch number on your product. If you are directed to a repository on a website, the batch number may be used to locate the COA.

If the COAs are not up to date or you can’t locate your product’s COA, inquire directly with the seller.


Final Thoughts

Remember, not all CBD products are made the same.

When shopping for a CBD product, make sure you have access to the product’s COA to verify the product’s safety, potency, and purity before use. If you cannot locate the product’s COA, contact the seller to determine if one exists.  A reputable seller should provide an inadvertently omitted COA to you.

Stay tuned for our upcoming blog on How do I Read a Certificate of Analysis for My Hemp Extract CBD Product?  And, don’t forget to sign up to our mailing list and follow us on social media.  You’ll be notified when our next blog is posted.  Plus, we’ll keep you up-to-date on our deep journey, promotions, new products, events, future blog posts, educational resources, and our latest company news. Thanks for reading!

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