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How important is the Certificate of Analysis (COA) when buying CBD products?

How important is the Certificate of Analysis (COA) when buying CBD products?

How important is the COA? Well, on a scale of 1 to 10, a solid 10. A Certificate of Analysis (COA) is a laboratory document that lists the ingredients included in raw material or a finished product. The COA tells you that the product was tested to assure that the components that are supposed to be there are there. The COA details the ingredients and amounts of those ingredients that appear in the product. Maybe most important, the COA also tells you what’s not in the product (such as contaminants, heavy metals, or remnants of chemicals from processing the raw material.


Why should I check my COA?

Because CBD is not a food, nor a pharmaceutical, it is not fully regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, therefore consumers must rely on the CBD brands to police their own manufacturing and labeling. Reputable CBD manufacturers send their products for 3rd-party,  independent laboratories to document the product contents. The final lab certificate, called a Certificate of Analysis, gives important information regarding the authenticity of the product, thus proving that the advertised products genuinely comprised of what the manufacturer says they are.

A COA protects consumers from misleading, mislabeled, false, and poor-quality products. So when a CBD company offers COAs for each batch of the product they produce, the product recipient can review it and feel confident in the purchase.  And if you come across a company that doesn’t offer COAs, just know this: A 2017 study by a Penn Medicine researcher, revealed that 68% of CBD products are misrepresented in labeling in that they contain more than +/-10% disparity in the active ingredient CBD. 


What kind of information is included in a COA?

A COA should include the following:

  1. Name and location of the independent laboratory that performs the analysis
  2. Product information that includes batch number and type of product tested 
  3. Date of analysis
  4. Percentage of active ingredients by weight
  5. Total active ingredients
  6. Total THC, which should be listed as <.3% to be non-psychoactive 
  7. Terpenes

A Certificate of Analysis should also test for the absence of undesirable compounds, such as the following:

  1. Residual Solvents
  2. Pesticides
  3. Mold/Foreign Particles
  4. Heavy Metals


How do I read the results of my COA?
 

For information on how to read your Certificate of Analysis results, read our blog that breaks down a Certificate of Analysis. ALL G offers instructions on this website for how to read COAs for both the raw materials and manufactured products.  


How do I get my COA?

Each product you purchase from ALL G Essentials comes with a QR code on the label, which means each individual product batch has its own COA. To read the COA for your product, use the QR app on your phone (usually in the camera). Open your camera and hold your phone screen up to the QR code and let it read it. Your phone will prompt you to click a link that transports you to the ALL G website where you’ll enter the unique product code and your COA will appear on the screen. 


What should I pay close attention to on a COA?

Once you get your COA, inspect it thoroughly. Here are a few things you’ll want to watch out for:


THC percentage

Marijuana and hemp, while related, have very different properties. Hemp contains a far smaller quantity of the cannabinoid THC, which is the psychoactive component of marijuana. But hemp does contain some THC and the legal limit of THC in a hemp product is .3%. If a company advertises a product as CBD or hemp and the COA reveals that the THC is greater than .3%, something is wrong.


CBD percentage

While different companies’ CBD products may contain varying percentages of CBD, the thing you want to make sure the quantity in the actual product matches the label. 

Furthermore, not all CBD products contain just the cannabinoid CBD. Make sure you understand the difference between the three most common types of CBD:

  1. CBD Isolate is the purest form of CBD. No other plant compound, cannabinoids, or terpenes are included in a CBD isolate product, except for the cannabinoid cannabidiol, a.k.a. CBD. 
  2. Full-spectrum CBD (a.k.a. Phytocannabinoid-Rich) is formulated from the entire hemp plant, which allows the complete plant and its terpenes, cannabinoids, vitamins, etc. to interact with one another, thereby, increasing the effect of the CBD, sometimes called “the Theory of the entourage effect.” Using the whole plant means the CBD should include a host of the other 113 cannabinoids found in the plant. So, expect to see a listing of more than just CBD on the COA if you’re purchasing full-spectrum CBD. 
  3. Broad-spectrum is full-spectrum minus the THC. The same enhanced effect is achieved but without any traces of THC. This is a very popular form of CBD.


Third-party tested

If the company that manufactures the product also performed the analysis, it is a potential conflict of interest. That’s an example of the proverbial fox guarding the henhouse. Impartiality yields credibility. Many companies test their products internally to make sure products meet standards and that’s perfectly ok, but third-party lab testing is more trustworthy.     


Final thoughts

CBD products are in demand. Many consumers have heard or experienced the benefits, but they’re unsure which brands, which products, and which doses to buy. ALL G Essentials offer exceptional quality CBD, but the way to be a smart consumer in the CBD market is to look for the Certificate of Analysis which proves what’s in your product.