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How To Read a Certificate of Analysis (COA)
By Mark Davis
What is a Certificate of Analysis (COA)?
A Certificate of Analysis (COA) is a lab report from an accredited third-party testing facility that shows the quantity of different cannabinoids found in a product. To ensure transparency, a third party and not the company selling the product should always carry out the product tests.
At ZPE we send a sample from every batch of every product we manufacture to a third-party lab for testing. This ensures that our customers are getting exactly what is being advertised.
How do I find the COA for my product?
We upload the COA to our website and a customer can scan the QR code located on the product package with their smartphone to access this page.
Here you will find the name of the accredited testing facility, a description of the product, the date of the test and the batch number. You should also find the name of the company that the COA was prepared for; this should match the name of the company selling the product.
Not every lab report is formatted the same but you should also find an overview of the results. This will show important items such as total THC, as well as a pass or fail for heavy metals, solvents and pesticides.
Cannabinoid Profile/Potency Analysis
The first thing that you want to look for is the THC content. In order for a product to be consumed and sold across all 50 US states it must contain less than 0.3% THC. In the example above the total THC is 0.02% for the tested product, which is well under the federally legal limit.
For this example we are looking at a CBGa Crumble, the next item we need to look for is the total CBGa, here we see the sample contains 85.3% CBGa. This sample also contains other cannabinoids that make up the total cannabinoid content (TCC) of 87.1%.
The pesticide analysis lists the common pesticides tested for in the sample. For this report, the unit is in parts per million (ppm). You will also find the action level, this is based on the state where the sample was tested and relates to the federal legal safe limits.
<LOQ – means the result is below the Limit of Quantitation – the compound was not detected
The metals analysis lists the metals that were tested for in the sample. LOD is the lowest limit of detection for the lab equipment used for the test.
<LOQ – means the result is below the Limit of Quantitation – the compound was not detected.
At the bottom of the report you should see the name and signature of the person(s) that tested the product. You should also find the lab name and certifications.
Unfortunately there is a problem of mislabeled products on the market. Transparent companies with high quality products will make their COA’s available to the consumer. Everyone should know how to read a COA and if it is not readily available, do not buy that product.