Our Certificate of Analysis Guarantees Safety of Hemp/Cannabis Products

February 21, 2022

Written By

Sue Cielinski

Certificate of Analysis ensures safe cannabis products. KJ Scientific Independent Testing Labs prepares quality COAs to protect your brand

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) establishes Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) for producers of drugs, food and other products. GMPs help products to be safe, pure and effective for the American consumer. As appropriate, the FDA requires laboratory testing of products sold commercially. A Certificate of Analysis (COA) formally presents product testing results and facilitates public access to its information. The FDA calls for a legitimate COA for each batch of regulated product.

Cannabis products, however, are not yet FDA-regulated. As a result, both testing and COA requirements vary considerably across the United States. For example, California requires COA for cannabis goods with a stringent compliance testing program. A state, where cannabis is legal for both medicinal and recreational (adult) use.

Yet Texas expects only the testing of hemp and COA for consumable products made from hemp. While recreational use of marijuana is still illegal. Illinois though, where marijuana is legal for personal use (with restrictions), supports public access to COA for products sold at a cannabis dispensary.

Consequently, without consistent testing regulations, dangerous cannabis products may make way to the consumer. KJ Scientific Independent Testing Labs is a reliable third-party testing lab. We provide you an authentic COA to get information you need for the safety of your product.

Our certificate of analysis ensures the purity of your products. We document their components and identify the presence of harmful substances. The caliber of our COAs reflect our commitment to transparency and instill trust in product quality.

Certificate of Analysis Reports Cannabinoid and Terpene Potency

A certificate of analysis is the outcome of laboratory analysis of ingredients (analytes) and amounts (potency) found in a sample of a cannabis derived product. Potency test results are given numerically (ex. milligram/gram). The COA also details the brand, product in question and laboratory performing testing. Each batch of cannabis product tested is issued a COA.

The analysis can report on cannabinoids and terpenes, both natural substances inherent in cannabis. For example, it reports out on specific cannabinoids (i.e., tetrahydrocannabinol – THC and cannabidiol – CBD and assorted terpenes ex. myrcene.) The analysis also detects harmful contaminants from soil, the extraction process used and product storage. From review of the COA, you can verify the desired dose of any cannabinoid or other substance in question.

 

COA also discloses measurement of the potential to be able to detect an analyte. The intent is to define the smallest concentration that can be detected without bias in measurement from the analytical method utilized.

Levels of Detection for Potency

Two terms, limit of detection (LOD) and limit of quantification (LOQ) describe the smallest concentration that can be reliably measured. Unfortunately, these words may cause some confusion since some laboratories often use them interchangeably.

By definition, LOD is the lowest amount (ex. mg/mL, mg/g) of an analyte that can be measured. In contrast, LOQ is the smallest concentration (percent weight/weight of product) of analyte determined with repeatability and accuracy.

To further clarify, if the analyte in the product is less than the LOD the compound is not detected during the analysis. If the amount of analyte found is less than the LOQ, the compound may be present but the quantity is too low to report an exact amount. This is similar to having no internet signal versus having one bar of signal though not strong enough to be useful, respectively.

As such, there isn’t just one single LOD or LOQ value for a compound. The laboratory establishes a LOD and LOQ based on the instrumentation/lab testing techniques used and close comparison with a reference material (a highly purified compound).

Whether the lab uses LOD or LOQ the value should be as low as possible. Typically, LOQ is at a higher concentration than LOD. This distinction is important especially when the levels measured are close to the levels of possible detection.

How to Read the Laboratory Testing Results in COA

For the most part, a certificate of analysis summarizes laboratory results of tests requested by the cannabis/hemp product manufacturer. Types of tests chosen are potency for cannabinoids, a terpenes profile, an analysis of heavy metals and pesticides and presence of residual solvents, microbial screening and mycotoxins. COAs may differ in format from lab to lab but all elements should be present.

The amount of analyte is specified and if absent shown as not detected (ND). The technical equipment and methodology used in the laboratory for chemical analysis (ex. HPLC-DAD: SOP-CANN0104) is indicated.

A COA shows authorized dated signature along with contact information (name/address/phone number) of the original manufacturer. It also indicates what laboratory tested the product and conducted the chemical analysis.

The certificate of analysis provides information from the sample taken, the batch/lot/serial number and report date. If applicable, a batch expiration date and retest date is given and visible on the product label. Any new COAs issued for the product provide the original batch COA and names the manufacturer and testing laboratory.

Cannabis product manufacturer’s websites display COAs for public view. The manufacturer should also issue the COA upon request. To further access, a quick response code (QR code) may be printed on product packaging. In fact, some labs print QR codes on the COA.

Ideally, the COA QR code matches the QR code on the product package along with identical information. COAs can be accessed using web links ex. verifyhemp searchable by batch/lot/serial number.

Ways to Detect the Bad from the Good

First, does the COA represent the tested product. For instance, the brand name and batch/lot/serial number match those on product packaging.

Of utmost importance, the third-party testing laboratory is certified. A good COA prominently displays the name/address and credentials of the third-party testing lab for your verification. Lab authorities i.e. the head chemist and lab manager sign and date the COA.

A complete certificate of analysis gives the potency of all cannabinoids and terpenes. Check the amount of each cannabinoid and terpene and whether any are missing. Especially the most well-known, CBD, cannabigerol (CBG), cannabinol (CBN), THC (i.e., Delta-9 THC, Delta-8 THC) and tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA).

Legally, your hemp product contains less than 0.3% Delta-9 THC. For CBD, check to see if your product has the amount of CBD as advertised. On average, high-quality labs test between 12-16 cannabinoids and approximately 20 terpenes.

Notice if there are missing safety tests. A thorough COA reports on heavy metals, pesticides, residual solvents, microbials, and myotoxins. Look for COAs that test for at least 10-14 residual solvents, 4 heavy metals, 5 mycotoxins and 60-65 pesticides. A safe product passes every test.

Texas Regulations for Hemp Testing

The Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) requires the farmer/grower test their hemp (plant material) for total THC. TDA defines total THC as the sum delta-9-THC and THCA. Total THC must be below 0.3 percent in order to pass the test to be considered hemp. A testing laboratory issues the results in the COA format and requires public access to all hemp product COAs.

Since laboratories test for total THC they will also commonly test for a series of cannabinoids. However, this is largely dependent on the capability of each laboratory.

As TDA regulates hemp, Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) controls hemp extracted products (oils) and manufactured products (gummies, tinctures etc). DSHS manages consumer protection of consumable hemp products requiring the testing of potency, residual solvents, pesticides, metals and microbials. DSHS expects the testing of these analytes and sets acceptable limits in each category.

Importance of Third-Party Testing and ISO Accreditation

The certificate of analysis verifies whether a third-party testing lab performs the testing and not the company who is selling the product. A third-party laboratory therefore offers transparency and protects against bias of testing results. KJ Scientific Independent Testing Labs is an official independent (third-party) testing lab. As an ISO accredited lab (Certificate No.: AT-2884) we are registered under TDA hemp regulations (Texas License #: 2020011.)

Our diverse and international regulatory testing experience sets us above most certified labs. We conduct both environmental chemical risk assessment and bioaccumulation prediction testing for all industries.

Most relevant, our testing expertise is elevated far above the majority of ISO certified labs for cannabis. We are on the forefront with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Cannabis Quality Assurance Program (CannaQAP) in studies to improve standards for testing cannabis.

For the CannaQAP effort, KJ Scientific Independent Testing Labs performs measurement of cannabinoid potency both total CBD and THC. We also measure and collect data on moisture and toxins in cannabis plant materials and oils. CannaQAP is using our information compiled with other labs to improve competence and comparability of lab measurement of cannabis components.

Safe and high quality testing for your cannabis products is of utmost importance to KJ Scientific Independent Testing Labs. We provide you with an authentic and accurate certificate of analysis to meet the highest product standards. Contact us (go to Hemp CBD Testing) to accomplish all your cannabis testing needs.

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