- Jason Cragholm in CBD

How to Identify Safe CBD Products

Safe CBD products are high quality products manufactured and sold by fair, honest, and transparent companies that put the needs of consumers above all else. 

Unfortunately, with the massive number of new CBD brands and products hitting the marketplace in the past few years, it has become increasingly difficult for consumers to know whether or not the products they buy are effective and safe.

In fact, a 2017 study by a research from the University of Pennsylvania, Penn Medicine that was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found nearly 70% of CBD extracts sold online were mislabeled. That means the potency shown on product labels doesn’t match what’s actually in the CBD products consumers are buying.

More recently, Leafly conducted a study of a variety of CBD products and found that 51% tested within 20% of the advertised dosage. Before you start thinking that’s an improvement over the results from the 2017 Penn Medicine study, let’s take a closer look at the data. Of the products tested by Leafly:

  • 23% delivered less than 80% of the CBD claimed
  • 15% delivered 120% more than the CBD claimed
  • 11% delivered no CBD at all
Bottom-line, inaccurate labeling continues to be a problem in the CBD industry. In fact, the problem goes beyond CBD and THC potency. It also includes issues related to other ingredients found in CBD products that aren’t being reported accurately or at all. 

A variety of unnatural and harmful ingredients can be introduced to the hemp plant and CBD products at any time from cultivation through processing. Pesticides, herbicides, chemical solvents, added ingredients, and more can appear in CBD products, and consumers need to know about them in order to identify the safest products.

Fortunately, consumers are becoming more educated about CBD products and the dangers that untested or poorly tested products can present. A recent poll by YouGov found that more than half of respondents have safety concerns about CBD products with the majority of people concerned about pesticides and heavy metals ending up in the products they buy.

How to Evaluate CBD Product Safety


To find safe CBD products, you need to know what to look for. Most importantly, you should look at the product ingredients, the company’s cultivation and manufacturing practices, and the business and/or brand’s quality certifications.

Ingredients


Start by looking at the ingredients listed on the CBD product label. Are the ingredients you’d expect to find listed? This includes a variety of cannabinoids, terpenes, vitamins, and other naturally occurring components of the hemp plant.

Next, check the company’s website and look at the product’s lab reports. Trustworthy companies that produce quality products will make their third-party testing lab reports and Certificates of Analysis (COAs) available to the public. 

The products you buy should each have a batch number on them, so you can easily match the product to the correct lab report and COA. Look not only for the ingredients that should be in your CBD product but also for safe added ingredients (e.g., a sweetener in an edible) and unexpected ingredients that could raise red flags, such as heavy metals and other contaminants. 

If a company can’t or won’t provide lab test results and COAs from independent labs (i.e., labs that aren’t affiliated with the company), then don’t buy from that company. 

Trustworthy companies that produce high quality products which are safe to use are willing to invest in the appropriate testing to ensure their products haven’t been compromised, and they’re willing to share those results with consumers. Why? Because those test results prove the CBD products are safe, which is something few companies in the CBD industry can claim based on the research results discussed above (remember – 70% of CBD extracts sold online were mislabeled).

Cultivation and Manufacturing Practices


Quality CBD brands use best-in-class growing and manufacturing processes. For cultivation, this means never using fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides. The industrial hemp plant is a bioaccumulator, which means it loves to pull everything it can from the soil. When pesticides and other chemicals are used during cultivation, residual amounts could end up in the plant. Ultimately, those chemicals could make it into the CBD products people buy, which isn’t safe.

There are also manufacturing processes that can contaminate CBD products. For example, some extraction methods used to extract the cannabinoids from the plant introduce harsh chemicals and solvents that can make it into final products.

Across the supply chain, everyone needs to follow practices that deliver a safe product to consumers. 

Quality Certifications


A big part of producing safe CBD products is taking steps to ensure consumers understand which products are safe and which are not. One of the easiest ways to prove claims of quality is to obtain industry certifications. The investment is worth it because respected certifications instantly communicate a company’s commitment to quality and consumer safety.

There are several certifications that CBD businesses and brands can obtain, including but not limited to:

·         U.S. Department of Agriculture’s organic certification
·         Food and Drug Administration’s certification of Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP)
·         ISO 9000 certification for compliant quality management systems 
·         SAFE Certified CBD from QualSCORE

The SAFE Certified CBD certification from QualSCORE is the most reliable independent certification of safety, quality, and service in the CBD industry. The certification is awarded to CBD businesses and brands that score 91 or higher on the QualSCORE Quality Rating and pass all of the ratings and vetting conducted by QualSCORE’s team of quality experts.

To keep the SAFE Certification, CBD businesses and brands must agree to conduct ongoing market research and collect customer feedback to monitor quality and customer satisfaction as well as to identify and resolve customer complaints. In addition, companies and brands must agree to participate in QualSCORE’s Quarterly Quality Audits and make any necessary changes to retain the highest levels of quality and performance at all times.

There is no more comprehensive or affordable certification in the CBD industry than QualSCORE’s SAFE Certified CBD designation to help high quality businesses and brands stand out in the marketplace and to help consumers find the best CBD products.
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