Certificate of Analysis - "Pandora's box"

The confusion

Many consumers are confused with the Certificate of Analysis (COA). It is normal, not all of us are knowledgeable to read "medicinal" types of documents. First of all, understand them as a "blood test". What does a blood test tell you - it tells you how "good" a certain organism is, and what are all the things that may be found in your blood.

The COA, for CBD products, should tell you whether the product that you intend to buy, meets the declared content.

The Big Four

There are four key things that you want to find in the COA:

1. Batch number

Make sure, that the certificate contains a batch number. The batch number normally is a sample, taken from an entire quantity that is produced during an uninterrupted production cycle, for a certain period of time (1 day, 1 week, etc.). What is even more important, if you decide to purchase a product, make sure that when it arrives, it contains the same batch number as the one that was stated on the COA, at the time of purchase. This way, you know what exactly your product contains.

2. Amount of CBD (and other cannabinoid compounds)

Disclaimer: This is a very important part as there are a lot of grey areas. So we will spend enough time breaking it down for you.


Typically, you should get what you pay for. If you are buying a box of 30 tablets of vitamin C, you probably won't accept it if the package contains 27. If there are 31, great! Same with the amount of CBD. CBD oils are usually labeled with the percentage of CBD (e.g. 7%, 15%, 20%, etc.) or amount of CBD in milligrams (e.g. 700 mg, 1,500 mg, 2,000, mg, etc.) - ultimately, it is the same thing (if the packaging is 10 ml) and here is how to understand it: 7% CBD translates to 700 mg of CBD in a 10 ml of oil (or "fill" as instead of oil it can also be cream, gel, etc.).

When looking at the COA, make sure that the CBD content is as close to the declared content. If you are buying "7% CBD oil" make sure that the analysis shows an amount that is close to 700 mg of CBD. What if the analysis shows more than 700 mg, like 712 mg - great news, that means you get 12 mg more CBD in the 10 ml of oil (the entire bottle). Or if you wish to translate this into consumer language, you have bought yourself "7,12% CBD oil" while you paid for 7%.

Here is one catch:

Pay attention to such details on the certificates. Columns named "uncertainty", "min X% from the declared content", "variability", etc., tell you about the test accuracy and how confident the test results are. In this case, this test means the following: " The CBD content found in the sample is 1500 mg, but it can be 30% less than this amount (this is pretty bad) or 30% more (this will be amazing and "I have to see to believe it" situation). Good laboratories that usually have state-of-art equipment, will have "uncertainty" levels of 20% or lower.

CBD Cosmetics

Be careful with CBD cosmetics. A lot of products do not even have any COA. Many of the products would state "face cream with hemp oil", or "massage oil with cannabis".

We are based in the Czech Republic, where any product which contains more than 1% of THC is considered a drug and is illegal to be sold. But in downtown Prague, you still come across the "Cannabis point", the "weed shop", etc. - pretty much like Amsterdam, the only difference is that the Prague shops are selling "weed-like" products, pretty much the same as the "100% Orange Juice" that you can buy in your local supermarket for 90 cents.

Going back to the cosmetics with not-so-transparent content and no COA - they could be one of the products sold at Prague's "Cannabis points".

3. Microbiological quality 

Many of the analyses only focus on chemical analysis. Testing for microbiological quality is also very important as you do not want your product to contain serious bacteria such as Escherichia or Salmonella as well as the total yeasts or molds should not be over the acceptable values.

4. The Laboratory

Do a quick "Google" search on the laboratory. Does it sound legitimate to you? Do they poses relevant certificates? Usually, on the internet, you will come across sayings "make sure the COA comes from a 3rd party, independent laboratory". Here are 2 questions to ask yourself:

  • How can I know that the 3rd party lab is not connected to the producer anyhow? How can I know how much independent they are?
  • Can a producer really fake their own test results in their in-house laboratory? 

Of course producers can fake their test results. But if this is a serious institution (say, pharmaceutical company), they need to follow rigorous "game rules" to exist on the market. Their products usually are tested on an ad-hoc basis, normally by the Food and Veterinary Institute of the country where they operate. Can you imagine the fines that they will face if they are caught faking their COA?


Hopefully, this article helps you to read and understand the COA. And remember, it is a big red flag if a product does not have a COA - or you are risking buying something that might be of poor quality.

Zpět do obchodu