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How to Read a COA

As consumers, we are ensured that there are specific product safety and quality guidelines for nearly everything we purchase through government regulations. However, due to the new and emerging nature of the CBD industry, there is a lack of federal and state regulations to guarantee that all CBD products are safe. Vermont sets a higher standard with it’s CBD product safety requirements.  A full panel test, including analysis of heavy metals, microbial, residual solvents, pesticides, and cannabinoid potency, is required on any product we offer, but this is not the case for every state. 

Consumers should do their research to know that what they are buying is safe, as some brands are offering products with faulty claims. In 2020, the FDA did a study of CBD products that claimed to have a certain amount of cannabinoids. They tested these 102 products, and found: 18 products (18%) contained less than 80% of the amount of CBD indicated, 46 products (45%) contained CBD within 20 percent of the amount indicated, and 38 products (37%) contained more than 120 percent of the amount of CBD indicated. Concerningly, 49% of the products tested contained THC. 

A reputable brand will offer a Certification of Analysis (COA). This is a document from an accredited laboratory that helps ensure that a manufactured product meets certain specifications. A COA typically reports the testing results carried out during the quality control process. 

At Kria Botanicals, we use several trusted ISO-certified third party labs to verify that our hemp, extracts, and final products are free of contaminants and mold, and meet labeling requirements. 

If you are using a CBD product to optimize your health, you should be able to benefit from the healing effects without having to worry if your product is safe or not. This blog explains to you how to request and read a COA, which should be available for any CBD product you buy. 

Where to Find a COA

Many brands publish COAs on their website, typically under the “Lab Results” or “Product Description” tabs. Some have started to include QR codes on their product’s outer packaging, which can be scanned to view the COA. If the COA is unable to be located, the consumer should contact the brand, or consider purchasing elsewhere. 

How to Read a COA

The Header of the COA

The header of the COA contains details about the validity of the data. 

  1. Name of Testing Lab: Look at the name of the third-party lab in the header so you can check on the lab’s credentials and ensure it’s legit. 
  2. Prepared for: View the name of the brand in this field and make sure it matches the name on the bottle. An exception to this is if the brand gets their product manufactured by a different company, such as brands that manufacture through Kria. 
  3. Sample Name: This is the name of the sample that was provided by the manufacturer who sent in the sample. 
  4. Batch ID: The Batch ID is provided by the manufacturer for internal tracking purposes. Compare the Batch ID with the one on your product. 
  5. Type: The type refers to the kind of sample that was submitted. This can include: plant, concentrate, solution, or unit. At Kria, we always test the hemp plant before we process it, as well as test the final product (concentrate or solution). 
  6. Test: This refers to the type of test that was done, such as potency, terpenes, or heavy metals. 
  7. Method: Each testing method has a number that links to the third-party testing lab’s standard operating procedure. 
  8. Test ID: This is the unique identifier of the sample. 
  9. Submitted: This is the date that the sample was submitted to the third-party testing lab. 
  10. Started: This is the date that the testing was started by the  third-party testing lab.
  11. Reported: This is the date that the COA was reported to the client. Check the report date to make sure the COA is recent and applicable. 

The Results Summary

The results summary of the COA goes into further detail about the product that is summarized in the header. Results summaries can include the potency of all the cannabinoids in the product and/ or safety testing for contaminants. A full panel COA includes both pieces of information. 

How to Read a Cannabinoid Potency Profile:

*Make sure the THC level is compliant, and that there are not fewer cannabinoids than advertised.

  1. Donut Chart: The donut ring will display each cannabinoid reported. Inside the donut will either show the total number of cannabinoids reported in a percentage or the total milligrams of CBD. 
  2. Bar Chart: This presents delta-9 THC, THCA, CBD, and CBDA. 

Federal law states that delta-9 THC is the standard for compliance. However, 

some states have chosen to use total THC. Total THC is always higher than delta-9 THC, so those who use total THC yield less margin for error in THC levels for potency testing. The USDA has set the allowable amount of total or delta-9 THC in hemp to 0.3%.

  1. Compound: This column tells you which cannabinoids the lab reported.
  2. LOQ (%): This column stands for the “Limit of Quantitation.” This is the lowest level that the lab can accurately quantify for each cannabinoid they report. 
  3. Result (%): This column converts the concentration of each cannabinoid from milligram per gram to a percentage of overall weight of the product. 
  4. Result (mg/g) or (mg/ml): This column tells you how many milligrams of each cannabinoid is concentrated within every gram or milliliter. 
    1. If there are blanks in the results column, this means that the lab did not detect a statistically significant amount of that specific cannabinoid. 
  5. Total Cannabinoids: This section displays two values: Total Potential THC and Total Potential CBD. These values stand for the theoretical conversion of THCA into delta-9 THC and CBDA into CBD. 

How to Read a Terpene Profile

Donut Chart: This displays each terpene reported and inside the donut is the total terpenes reported as a percentage.

  1. Bar Chart: This displays the 10 predominant terpenes.
  2. Compound: This column tells you which terpenes the lab reported.
  3. % (w/w): This column displays the amount of each terpene reported in a percentage.
  4. mg/g: This column represents the terpenes reported in milligrams per gram. 

How to Read a Residual Solvents Test

Solvent: This column displays the solvents that were tested for. 

  1. Dynamic Range (ppm): This column shows the upper and lower range of detection, which is measured in parts per million. 
  2. Result (ppm): This column indicates whether the solvent was detected or not. ND stands for None Detected. Check your state’s regulations to determine the allowable limit.

How to Read a Microbial Contamination Test

  1. Contaminant: This column indicates the contaminants that were tested for. 
  2. Result (CFU/g): These results are reported in scientific notation. CFU stands for colony forming units. The American Herbal Products Association has created charts to give guidance for allowable limits of microbials.

How to Read a Pesticide Residue Test

  1. Compound: This column tells you which pesticides the lab reported.
  2. Dynamic Range (ppb): This column shows the upper and lower range of detection, which is measured in parts per billion. 
  3. Result (ppb): This column indicates whether the pesticide was detected or not. ND stands for None Detected. Check your state’s regulations to determine the allowable limit.

The Footer

The footer of the COA is important in showing that the lab stands by its results. 

There should be final approval signatures from the lab’s scientists who have signed off on the data. 

  • Prepared by/Date: The signature and name of the analyst that performed the test. 
  • Approved by/Date: The signature and name of the analyst that reviewed the test data. 

There should also be the lab’s license and credentials so you can trust the accuracy of the data. All labs are legally required to have a license number. 

CBD companies that use third-party testing laboratories prove that they value quality, honesty, and above all else, consumer safety. At Kria, We send all of our products to a trusted third-party testing lab before we send them to our customers because we are committed to providing our customers with the highest quality product, testing ensured. 

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