How to Read CBD Lab Results (Certificate of Analysis)
The first thing you should look for when shopping for CBD, or hemp-derived products of any kind, is a Certificate of Analysis or COA.
These third party test results provide details of the testing lab, the company requesting the test, product identifiers, and, of course, an analysis of the results found by the testing laboratory.
And why is a COA important?
The CBD industry is still young and not well regulated, yet. You should never buy a CBD product if there’s not a readily available COA from an accredited lab to certify the product’s CBD potency and safety.
But remember, not all labs are created equal.
There are countless labs across the US that test CBD products, but many of them do not have the certifications that ensure they are meeting stringent testing requirements that are becoming the industry standard. When looking at a COA for a CBD product make sure that somewhere on the paperwork there is a licensed ISO accreditation. If you see this you know you can trust the information on the COA.
Below we've marked some identifiers to look out for on any reputable COA.
Certificate of Analysis Overview
- This is the lab doing the testing. Again, be sure to check for the ISO certification mentioned above, it will usually be found at the bottom of a COA.
- This is the company requesting the COA.
- Every COA should have a product identifier. In this case, it is a product “SKU”.
- This is the LOT code for a product batch. It should be printed on the product packaging.
- The batch date lets you know when the product was produced. Since best-by dates aren’t set in stone this can be useful to know.
- The effective date of the test is when the lab certified the listed results and how long they’ll stand by that certification. In the CBD world, most lab results are certified for one year, though the best-by for the product is often longer.
Now that you know how to verify you’re indeed looking at a COA (certificate of analysis) for the correct product and company, let’s look at how to understand the information on the COA.
Check the Cannabinoid Profile
Every lab will format the cannabinoid profile a little differently, but these are the most important pieces of information when examining a COA. Since the CBD industry still isn’t tightly regulated this is your go-to to make sure you’re getting what you pay for.
First, What's the CBD Content?
In this case, the primary CBD measurement is mg per container. You’ll also often find this as CBD/serving, or in the case of edibles, CBD/each or CBD/gummy. Compare these to the label claims. Some states will allow companies to sell their products even if the CBD contents tested as far as 20 percent below the label claim. Don’t get ripped off, check the COA.
Check for Secondary Cannabinoids
The smaller portions circled are CBD/g and THC/g. These numbers provide a better breakdown to help you get an idea of your overall cannabinoid profile. You’ll also note there are quite a few other cannabinoids listed in this analysis. Depending on what type of CBD product you’re looking at, these may or may not show any information. In this circumstance, ND stands for “not detected.”
For products claiming to be “Full-spectrum” or “Full-plant” CBD you should expect at least trace amounts of other cannabinoids on any COA and, generally speaking, the more trace cannabinoids you see, the better. In the case of our example COA, it is showing five measurable levels of cannabinoids. This would be considered a full-spectrum product. If you don’t see those trace amounts, you’re not really getting full-spectrum CBD.
If you’re looking at a COA for a CBD isolate product (such as what someone might take if they’re being drug-tested for their job or athletics), you should expect to see 0 or “ND” THC.
Additional Safety Testing
In addition to cannabinoid potency analysis, you may also have tests for microbial content, heavy metals, residual solvents, mycotoxins, pesticides, and terpene profiles.
Tests for impurities within the CBD industry are actually more stringent than they are in the supplement industry as a whole. What you are looking for on any impurity test is a passing grade. Given the tight requirements for a “pass” anything that may show up is well within the safe to consume limits.
The Hemplucid Standard
Hemplucid has strict testing requirements we enforce for our products. If our products test low on CBD potency, show any impurities, or lack the overall cannabinoid profile, we reformulate, remake, or discard a batch. We believe the CBD industry needs to meet a higher level of standards and we’re doing our part to lead the way by offering the best and providing total transparency for each and every product you’ll buy.
Check out the Certificates of Analysis for all of our products and see how we’re beating the industry standards!