What is a CBD Certificate of Analysis & How to Read One
Ensuring product safety is a priority for any savvy buyer. That said, a Certificate of Analysis (COA) is a powerful tool that can help consumers vet industry markets.1 However, manufacturers can benefit from COAs as well. Companies can request a COA to verify the ingredients or components of their product to improve trust in their brand.
While the FDA has yet to issue full approval for nonprescription CBD products, COAs can act as a stand-in regulatory system for the CBD industry.2 Often performed by third-party laboratories, a COA details a product's CBD and THC levels and tests for any potentially harmful substances.
Overwhelmed by the different types of CBD products on the market or looking for an easy and effective way to weed through companies popping up on your feed? This guide will review the uses of a CBD COA and identify language to look for to help you confirm the top-rated CBD Oil, CBD gummies, CBD tincture, and more.
How Do I Verify a CBD Product?
The 2018 U.S. Farm Bill denotes the legality of CBD with less than 0.3% THC content, on a dry weight basis (meaning water has been removed).3 This classification opened the market to a wave of CBD products that harness the plant's health benefits without the psychoactive properties associated with THC.
If you’re considering hopping on the CBD trend or want to ensure the products you’ve selected are effective, consider these guidelines:
- Read the label – Due to constantly shifting regulations, products can be listed as CBD even if they do not contain cannabidiol or hemp extract, which are interchangeable terms that have a feel-good CBD compound. Products that list only hemp seeds or hemp oil may not be what you’re looking for.
- Obtain the product’s COA – This can often be found on the seller’s website. If not, companies should be willing to provide information regarding a product’s ingredients when contacted.
- Identify desired amounts – If you’re looking to reap the bodily benefits of CBD without that “high” feeling, make sure to confirm that your CBD product does not exceed the legal amount of THC. These amounts should be readily available on the COA. Less than 0.3% THC produces little to no psychoactive effects.
- Know your seller – Purchase from a trusted CBD company or local shop where you can communicate with the manufacturer. Note that companies like Amazon won't authorize CBD sales, although you may still see products claiming false CBD content.4
How Do You Read a Certificate of Analysis?
Wondering how to read a CBD certificate of analysis? Once you’ve obtained a CBD COA, it’s important to first know what to look for. The key components to verify your CBD are most often listed at or near the top of the document. These include:
- Company name – This should match the product seller. The COA is almost always performed by an independent, third-party lab. The testing lab’s name will be listed as well.
- Batch number – The batch ID, sometimes noted as the “lot number,” references the product type. If this number does not match that of the product in question, make sure to request the correct corresponding COA from the CBD company.
- Date – Products are typically retested every couple of years. If the COA date looks excessively outdated, you might want to do further investigation or consider this a red flag and avoid the product altogether.
- THC and CBD content – This value is important for those looking to ensure their products have the desired effects. These amounts will typically be indicated in percentages converted from a fraction of milligrams (mg) per milliliter (mL).
Note: Concentrations do not equal serving size. To determine the concentration in each dose, multiply by the proportional amount. For example, a bottle of Peel CBD bottle is 1,000 milliliters (mL), and CBD concentration is listed as 30 mg per mL. Therefore, the CBD concentration in the suggested dose of 1 mL or 34 mg, should be about 30/34, or 88%.
Additional Information to note
Below the opening header with the name, batch number, date, and THC content, the COA should provide columns that indicate test findings that describe the product's makeup.
Test categories include:
- Additional solvents
- Heavy Metals
Note that all verified CBD should contain cannabinoids. Additionally, in some cases, the COA may offer additional advice or instructions. For example, Peel’s COA for Naturdiol suggests storage in a temperate location. These suggestions often have to do with retaining CBD potency.
As an easy checklist, the FDA indicates that it requires all COAs across industries to provide the following:
- Name of the intermediate or API (name of requesting party)
- Batch number
- Release date
- Expiration date
- List of tests performed including acceptance limits
- Numerical results
- Dated signature by authorized personnel
- Name of the company or name of the testing lab
So if you were wondering, “can CBD oil expire,” you can always find an expiration date listed on your product so you will know when to use it up before the benefits go away.
What Are The Benefits of a Certificate of Analysis?
Even with careful oversight, a lack of explicit federal oversight and varying state laws can make it difficult to know exactly what’s in a CBD product. A 2021 study suggests that less than 50% of CBD products are accurately labeled.5
All in all, obtaining a COA is your safest bet when it comes to verifying your CBD oil, CBD drops, CBD tincture, and other CBD products. A COA can help you identify product red flags, save you from wasting money on ineffective items, and give you peace of mind while purchasing.
Red flags might include:
- Any indication of pesticides
- Lack of cannabinoids
- An excessively old test date
- Any heavy metal content
- Unknown solvents or impurities
Is a Certificate of Analysis a Legal Document?
A COA is an authenticated document that is often required by a regulatory body, such as the FDA, and can therefore be used for legal purposes. As of 2022, the requirements and regulations of COAs are dictated by state law.6
While most states have rolled out legal standards for testing CBD products, these regulations are constantly shifting and do not always encompass all relevant contaminants. For example, Delaware’s system only lawfully requires that pesticides be specified.7
Certified CBD From Peels
Derived from orange peels, Peels CBD offers one of the purest CBD options on the market with a no-THC guarantee. Our Cyclic Terpene Assembly process uses heat and pressure to recreate the CBD structure from orange peel terpenes without introducing unnatural solvents.
The result is a crystal clear concoction that brings the healing potential of CBD to an ever-growing audience. With certifications from the Clean Label Project and facilities regulated by FDA and GMP guidelines, you can rest easy knowing our products are engineered to put your wellness first—just take a look at our Certificate of Analysis.
Our products confirm that if you put nature in, you get natural, healthy living out. Place your trust in Peels to deliver science-approved purity. Shop CBD products with Peels today!
- The Law Dictionary. Certificate of Analysis.https://thelawdictionary.org/certificate-of-analysis/
- FDA. FDA Regulation of Cannabis and Cannabis-Derived Products, Including Cannabidiol (CBD).https://www.fda.gov/news-events/public-health-focus/fda-regulation-cannabis
- Congress Research Service. Comparing Hemp Provisions in the 2014 and 2018 Farm Bills. https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/IF/IF11984
- Healthline. Reading a CBD Label: How to Find a Quality Producthttps:/https://www.healthline.com/health/reading-a-cbd-label#safety-and-side-effects
- JAMA. Labeling Accuracy of Cannabidiol Extracts Sold Online.https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2661569
- FDA. Guidance for Industry Quality Systems Approach to Pharmaceutical CGMP Regulations. https://www.fda.gov/media/71023/download
- Delaware.gov. 4470 States of Delaware Medical Marijana Code.https://regulations.delaware.gov/AdminCode/title16/Department