How to Read a Certificate of Analysis (COA)

How to read a Certificate of Analysis

A Certificate of Analysis (COA) is a lab report that features the chemical makeup of a product. In the CBD industry, a COA will showcase the contents of a product or batch. This report will highlight the cannabinoids and other compounds, such as heavy metals or pesticides. This ensures that a consumer is getting exactly what is being advertised by a product or company.

Why Do COAs Matter?

COAs are an essential part of self-regulating the CBD marketplace. Since CBD oil and other CBD products are not regulated by any governing body, consumers may be in the dark about what they are buying. Without a COA that goes with that product, consumers would have no way of knowing what’s in their CBD oil.

Since there’s no regulation on the market like established industries, CBD labeling varies across manufacturers. This means that you may not get the full picture of what’s in a bottle or product. With CBD being sold in stores and online, this lack of consistency in labeling can cause issues with everything from what you’re putting in your body to dosage levels. That’s another reason COAs are more important than ever. More reputable CBD manufacturers use COAs as self-regulation.

This is How to Read a Certificate of Analysis Report

Check the name of the company that performed the test. It should never, ever be the same as the company selling CBD oil. If it is, they’re providing false data and reporting. You want third-party, transparent results in every COA you go through.

Please Note: While we’re walking you through how to read a Certificate of Analysis, our instructions may not be exact. Every COA should contain what we’re explaining somewhere within the report. Reports vary in formatting and layout by the testing company.

On the top left of the report, you’ll see where the product was sent and the batch it belongs to. In most cases, this is how you search batch reports or lab results to find the COA attached to it. In the top right corner, you’ll find the company selling the product.

There should be a QR code at the top of the report that allows you to scan it to verify the report’s authenticity. This lets you go directly to the lab’s reports to make sure it is, in fact, a real report and not fabricated.

A signature is provided by the lab manager to verify the report’s accuracy.

Cannabinoid Profile and Potency

How to read a COAThe first page of a COA will feature the cannabinoid profile of the batch. This will include the cannabinoids found, along with their concentration. This is arguably the most important part of the report because it showcases what cannabinoids are present, including THC content.

Here’s what else the profile will show:

  • The ID column showcases what cannabinoids were tested, followed by weight and concentration.
  • Weight indicates the percentage of cannabinoid present in the overall product.
  • Concentration is the amount of cannabinoid broken down into milligrams per gram for reference. If you see an “ND” in a column, that means that such a small amount or none was found in the batch.
  • To the right of this will be a bar graph featuring the relative amounts of cannabinoids found in the sample comparative to one another.

Heavy Metal Analysis

The next part of the report will highlight the analysis of the heavy metal of a product sample. This will present the chemical symbol, common name, and the concentration of metals discovered when tested.

Units are the measurement size. On most reports, you’ll find this to be micrograms per kilogram.

Method Detection Level, or MDL, is the lower limit of detection for the lab instruments used during the process.

Use Limits on this section of the report is often the most important to consumers. Use Limits refers to a state’s Department of Public Health and US Pharmacopeia guidelines for what is safe to ingest daily. You want to ensure that each metal has a Pass Status to ensure the safe use of the product.

Pesticide Analysis

The Pesticide Analysis follows, showing any pesticides that show up in the batch sample. This will highlight the pesticide’s name, units measured in parts per billion, and the lower limit of detection based on each pesticide found.

The Limits column is based on the state where the test was conducted. Each state’s guidelines on limits will vary, as will some federal guidelines for pesticides in products.

The Status column, like the Heavy Metal Analysis, will show a Pass if the pesticides discovered are under the federal legal, safe limits.

Terpene Profile

The Terpene Profile showcases the terpenes present in a sample, followed by the relative amount of each by weight present. Terpenes give CBD products aromas and flavors. This can let consumers know what a product might taste or smell like.

Additional Profiles and Analysis

Some COA reports will have additional profiles and analysis on what might be in a CBD product. The report will briefly explain what each profile or analysis is and give you similar breakdowns to understand what’s in each sample.

If There’s No COA, Shop Elsewhere

When you’re buying anything in today’s world, you need to know what’s in it, where it came from, and as much as you can to make smart buying decisions. When buying CBD oil and other CBD-related products, you’re buying something from an unregulated marketplace. This comes with its own set of risks. By ensuring the CBD companies you do business provide COAs for every product they sell, you’re holding them accountable.

If a CBD company doesn’t provide COAs for the products they sell, don’t do business with them no matter how reputable they may seem. If something seems off about the COA they are providing, you can always call the lab to verify the authenticity of the results. Don’t risk your health and safety without doing your due diligence on the company you’re preparing to buy from.

NuLeaf Naturals provides third-party lab-verified test results for every product we sell. We want to give consumers peace of mind when they buy our products and the knowledge behind COAs if they choose to buy CBD elsewhere.