A COA is used to check quality, safety, consistency and potency. This certificate helps to show your product is what is being presented on the label and can give you comfort and peace of mind knowing you are not being misled. However, reading a COA can be difficult if you are not familiar with what it actually is and what information is being reported.
WHAT IS A COA
A COA is short for “Certificate of Analysis.” This is a document that is given by quality assurance and shows that the product that is being sold is a legitimate and regulated product that meets the product specifications it claims. This certificate shows the actual results of the testing that is performed on individual batches of products and is part of the quality control that goes into the product development. Certificates of Analysis are commonly used for testing of food products, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, wines and spirits. It shows the make-up of the product.
COAs for CBD products give specific information about the different compounds contained in the product. This means that the COA reports the presence of the various cannabinoids, terpenes and contaminants. This is important in the CBD industry since customers rely on the honesty and accuracy of the seller to give them the correct information on what they are getting in their CBD products, as well as confidence in the quality that is being assured. COAs can also make a customer feel more comfortable knowing that any presence of things such as heavy metal and pesticides can also be identified in the report.
THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE READING A COA
Now that you know what a COA is, here are a few other things you should know about the importance of a COA before you choose a product. Studies have shown that there was approximately 70% of CBD products being sold online that were incorrectly labeled and contained even less CBD than claimed.
Other things you should know about COAs is how to obtain them. Quality is important to you as it is to the customer. Often times, companies will have their Certificates of Analysis located on their website. If you can’t find the COA there, you can request them from the company.
When you obtain the COA, it is important to make sure that the certificate is up to date and that the batch number and date are matched with those listed on your product. It is also important to check to see who conducted the testing for the COA. Make sure that the COA states that it was “third party tested,” so there is no doubt that the certificate is legitimate, and the quality is assured.
INFORMATION COAs PROVIDE
BASIC BATCH INFORMATION
In order to read a COA, you must first start with the basic batch information. On the COA, the information at the top should identify the batch number, as well as the sample that was used for the lab testing. Other information at the top will be the address and contact information of the company that is selling the product.
Now to the good stuff: the cannabinoid profile. This profile shows the cannabinoids that are present in the sample that was tested by the lab. It also gives the concentration levels of these present cannabinoids and how potent they are. You will see by column the cannabinoids that were tested as well as often times and “ND” next to certain cannabinoids. This ND stands for “non-detectable” and is placed next to the cannabinoids that were not present in the testing, or that were contained in such small numbers that they were unable to be detected in the test. The report will tell the consumer in terms of milligrams per gram of the product.
HEAVY METAL ANALYSIS
Heavy metal analysis can also be present on the COA. This chart will indicate the heavy metals that are present in the product, as well as the concentration of the metals. The concentration can be read through the abbreviation “Conc.,” and the measurement size is referred to by “Units.” The “MDL” refers to the method detection limit that is detected by the lab instruments, and the “Use Limits” is one of the most important parts, as it refers to safe limit of ingestion of the heavy metals per day that is contained in the product.
PESTICIDE AND MICROBIAL ANALYSIS
Some other things listed on the COA can be the testing for pesticides and microbials. These are two things you do not want to have in a product, so it is important to read the presence levels of these in the product. The pesticide analysis will be measured in “ppm” which stands for parts per million or “ppb” which stands for “parts per billion.” The “limit of detection” (LOD), which refers to the lowest concentration we can detect, or “limit of quantitation” (LOQ), which is the lowest concentration we can detect and quantify, is different based on each pesticide.
Microbials are tested as well to show if they are present. Unlike the other tests, any present of microbials can deem their product unsafe to ingest and can comprise the quality of the product. Microbials can be things such as salmonella, yeast and various molds. Some exceptions to the microbial test are products that are derived from plants. These products may contain some microbials, but still be safe to ingest.
Lastly, there may be a terpene profile of the product that is tested during analysis. The terpenes give the product its aromas and flavors and are great in giving the consumer information on the product by the variations of the smell and taste. The analysis of terpenes is detected in the sample and are measured by the approximate amount of each terpene relative to the weigh percent.
Before you purchase your CBD product, make sure to check for the Certificate of Analysis (COA), as well as the date and batch number and be sure that it was third party tested. Now that you know what a COA is and how to read one, you can make more informed decision when purchasing your CBD. If you are a business owner, now you realize the important of a COA and what it truly means for your product and to your customer!