What is a Certificate of Analysis in CBD Product Labeling?

By Savannah Hasty
Crystalweed Cannabis, Unsplash

Delving into the world of CBD for the first time can be overwhelming. Without proper knowledge of its benefits, side effects, and various application styles, you may not know what to look for when comparing products online. This can become especially complex when taking into account the CBD market is largely unregulated at the federal level. The information you find online or in-store could be inflated, which is why individual research plays a critical role in smart CBD shopping.

What to Ask When Shopping for CBD

CBD consumers have an added responsibility of ensuring the products they buy are safe and accurately advertised. With so many options, there is no reason you cannot find a high-quality CBD product suited to your needs. However, you should ask the following questions before buying in-store or shopping online:

  • What type of product is best suited for the outcome I want? 
  • How many milligrams of CBD is provided per dose?
  • How much CBD will I need for the purpose I intend to use it?
  • Is this CBD derived from quality hemp or marijuana?
  • Does this company provide accurate information about their products?

Not all CBD brands are as transparent as they should be when it comes to their sourcing methods and manufacturing processes. This has caused headaches for many consumers who purchase products on false pretense, later to find out they have received lesser quality CBD than advertised. However, leaders in the industry have developed a way to combat this issue by working with third party labs to provide Certificates of Analysis (COAs) for CBD extracts.

What is A COA?

A Certificate of Analysis provides a comprehensive report on the content of a batch of CBD products. These reports include CBD and THC and other cannabinoid content, as well as test for the presence of different potential contaminants. Some COAs provide qualitative information such as different terpene levels and origin of the product, while others are more limited.

A 2017 study on the CBD industry found that nearly 70% of online CBD products either did not provide labeling, or included labeling that was inaccurate and misleading to consumers. Because only four U.S. states (Indiana, Texas, Utah, and Florida) require QR code labeling for CBD products, it is easy for online companies to sell products without listing accurate information.

A Certificate of Analysis provides accredited information from third-party testing laboratories. While not required, quality CBD brands use these certificates to validate their products and provide consumers with the information they need to make an informed purchase. A COA testing panel should include the following information:

  • Cannabinoid profile (including CBD and THC concentration) 
  • Presence of pesticides, bacteria, heavy metals, and other contaminants
  • Terpene analysis

Most COAs will provide the concentration of CBD and THC, which is the most important information for you to review. This will tell you if it is an isolate or full spectrum product. You should also check for the presence of contaminants in the product. Look for an “ND” result, which stands for “non-detect.”

How to Ensure the COA is Legitimate

Because the market is largely unregulated, some companies provide “in-house” COAs, and others may falsify reports. Do not trust the results from any COA that is not accredited by an independent third-party lab. The lab should be state-licensed and verifiable. If not, the information you receive in the COA may be inaccurate. 

Remedy Review provides information about third-party tested CBD companies to encourage consumers to shop for CBD the smart way. We only provide information about brands with COA information to our readers. For recommendations on pure, quality CBD products available in your area, read our brand reviews and buyer’s guides here.

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