Why Third-Party Testing Is Important (and What to Look Out For in COAs) - AboutBoulder.com

What do you look for when shopping for a new product? Is it the brand, the ingredients, the reviews, or the price? If you’re meticulous about what you consume or use (as we all should be), then you’ve probably come across the terms ‘third-party testing’ and ‘Certificates of Analysis’ or ‘COAs’ while browsing your favorite CBD products. But what exactly are these terms, and why should we even care about them?

Third-party testing is when an independent organization that offers CBD and hemp testing services steps in to review, inspect, and test products to ensure they meet specific standards.

This impartial review helps uphold product safety, quality standards, and can boost customer trust, which is especially crucial in industries like pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, food & beverages, and many more.

On the other hand, a Certificate of Analysis (COA) is a document issued by independent labs detailing the specific measurements and test results for the product.

Benefits of Third Party Testing for CBD

Ensures Product Safety

When you buy a product, you want some assurance that it’s safe for use. In third-party testing, independent testers examine and assess a product’s various parameters, from ingredient concentration to potential contaminants. Every piece of data they gather is recorded in a COA, providing a detailed record of product safety.

Maintains Quality Standards

Just as you expect a product to be safe, you also want it to perform as advertised. The role of third-party testing doesn’t stop at safety – it extends to maintaining consistent quality across the board. An independent tester scrutinizes every batch of a product to ensure it matches the quality of its predecessors. This is critical to avoid the disappointment of a product that fails to live up to previous standards.

Boosts Customer Trust and Confidence

Third-party testing is also a catalyst for boosting customer trust and confidence. When a product is verified by an impartial entity, it lends credibility to the manufacturer’s claims. Customers can trust that the product they’re purchasing has been evaluated and validated by an unbiased entity.

Ensures Compliance with Regulations

Rules and standards are set in place for a reason – to protect consumers and maintain industry integrity. An independent tester verifies that a product complies with these rules, confirming it meets the required standards. This aspect of third-party testing is crucial for manufacturers to stay in good standing with regulatory bodies and for consumers to trust in the legitimacy of the products they purchase.

What to Look Out For in a Certificate of Analysis (COA)?

As we’ve discussed, third-party testing plays a vital role in ensuring product safety and quality. But how do we, as consumers, get to see the results of this testing?

Once a product is tested by an independent organization, the results are compiled and presented in the form of a Certificate of Analysis (COA). This certificate serves as an official document detailing all the specifications, tests conducted, and their respective results.

Key Sections and Terms in a COA

Product Information: This section provides basic details like the product name, batch or lot number, and the date of manufacture.

Test Results: This is the meat of the COA. It outlines the tests conducted, the methods used, and the final results.

Reference Standards: These are benchmarks used to evaluate the product. They offer a context to interpret the test results.

What to Look Out For in a COA

Decoding a COA shouldn’t be like cracking a secret code. A well-prepared COA should be transparent, comprehensive, and easy to understand. Here are the key details it should contain:

  • Product Information: Basic details like the product name, manufacturer’s name, batch or lot number, and manufacturing date should be clearly specified. This data helps identify the specific product the COA refers to.
  • Test Results: This is the heart of a COA. It should comprehensively list all the tests conducted on the product, from ingredient verification to contamination checks. Each test result should be clearly marked as ‘Pass’ or ‘Fail’. If there are quantifiable results, they should be clearly stated.
  • Testing Methods: The specific methods or standards used to conduct each test should be listed. This information provides insight into how thorough and reliable the testing process was.
  • Reference Standards: The benchmarks or standards used to compare the product’s performance should be listed. This provides context to the test results and helps determine if the product meets industry norms.
  • Signature and Date: Lastly, a good COA should be signed and dated by the laboratory responsible for the testing. This ensures accountability and verifies the report’s authenticity.

Just as important as understanding what a COA should contain, is being able to identify potential red flags. For instance, a COA that lacks detailed test results, does not specify the testing methods used, or doesn’t include a batch number for the product, should be considered questionable. These omissions can indicate a lack of thorough testing or transparency from the manufacturer.

Director of Media Relations at AboutBoulder.com john@aboutboulder.com