How to Read a Certificate of Analysis (COA)

How to Read a Certificate of Analysis (COA)

As CBD continues to permeate the mainstream, the demand for new products has never been higher. From CBD-infused drinks you can buy at the grocery store to CBD oil used to quell anxiety and stress, we’re seeing more options on the market than ever before.

Unfortunately, like any great product, there are always going to be opportunists who want to replace quality with cheaper alternatives to increase profit margins.

This is a sad reality of the current CBD market. Some companies are simply in it to make as much money as possible and if that means lowering the grade of CBD product they put out — so be it. Because of this, vigilance is critical as a consumer. You need to know that the CBD products you put in your body are high quality and, above all, completely safe.

A Certificate of Analysis (COA) exists for this exact purpose. It helps consumers understand the precise nature of the CBD product they’re planning to use. The only way to determine, with certainty, that a CBD product you want to take prioritizes quality is by reading the COA. To give you a better idea of what to look out for, we’re going to break down how to read a COA and tell you why it’s essential.

What is a Certificate of Analysis?

In the most basic terms, a Certificate of Analysis (COA) is a type of lab report that sheds light on the chemical makeup of a particular product. It’s not limited to CBD products only, and it’s also commonly used for food products, wines and spirits, chemicals, and other pharmaceuticals.

As it refers to CBD products, however, a COA determines their cannabinoid, terpene, and contaminant profile. It also helps confirm that the CBD product is considered THC-free at less than 0.3%. A COA will also list other potentially harmful compounds (heavy metals, pesticides, etc.) that may have been discovered in the process.

The point of a COA is to really understand what is in the CBD product you’re interested in using. CBD companies that don’t include a COA can’t be trusted to sell quality CBD products. The consumer has no insight into what’s contained in the product, outside of the obviously positive advertisement included by the company.

Reading a Certificate of Analysis

There are a few things you want to look out for when reading a COA. The first, and perhaps most important, step is identifying the company that performed the lab report for the COA. Why? Well, you want to make sure it wasn’t actually conducted by the same company selling the product.

What you want to see ideally is a third-party test to ensure that it was conducted without bias. You can even take it a step further and look into the actual lab that did the report to make sure they’re legitimate. In most cases, a simple Google search will suffice.

Verified lab reports will also include a QR code that is usually in the top center portion of the COA. This code can be scanned at any time to verify the authenticity of the report. An excellent way to spot a doctored COA is if the code doesn’t work or if the COA doesn’t include a code at all. 

Why Does a Certificate of Analysis Matter?

Believe it or not, a 2017 study found that 70% of CBD products online were mislabeled and contained more or less CBD than the company advertised. Without a COA, a company selling CBD products can feasibly put anything they want into the product they’re selling. For all you know, it might not even actually be CBD. That’s how important a COA is to the entire CBD product ecosystem.

At Noble Hemp, we take the quality of products seriously. We always include a detailed third-party COA for our customers. Created with 100% organic hemp CBD, we stand behind all our products and offer full transparency about what they contain. Check our online shop today to browse some of the great CBD products we offer.

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