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What is Third-Party Testing for CBD Products and Why Does It Matter?

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Third-Party Testing for CBD Products

You may have run into the term “third-party testing” when shopping for CBD. In short, CBD third-party testing refers to the chemical analysis of a product done by an independent laboratory unaffiliated with the CBD company in question. 

These tests help protect shoppers by preventing companies from selling unsafe, low-quality CBD products that contain less CBD than advertised, but there’s more to it than that.

Read below to discover exactly what third-party testing is and why it matters when it comes to CBD.

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What Is CBD Third-Party Testing?

Third-party testing refers to the scientific analysis of a product performed by a third-party: an organization that is not related in any way to the company that manufactures or sells the product. 

In the CBD industry, third-party testing involves chemical tests done by an independent laboratory unaffiliated with the company making the CBD products.

Third-party testing is common in the health product industry as well as many other industries where product quality and safety are important, such as electronics, water filtration, and personal care items. 

This type of testing is quite invaluable: because the experts performing the analysis have no stake in the success of the product, they can give an unbiased, neutral view of its safety and quality, helping protect consumers.

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Why Is CBD Third-Party Testing Important?

Third-party testing is incredibly important in the CBD industry for several reasons:

  • CBD products must contain sufficient CBD and other cannabinoids, terpenes, and other phytochemicals to produce their beneficial health effects
  • CBD products are made from the cannabis plant, which means there’s always a risk of THC intoxication, especially with low-quality products
  • Like other dietary supplements, CBD products are not strongly regulated

The rapid growth of the CBD industry has resulted in plenty of unsafe, misleading, and less-than-stellar business practices. For example, a company can sell a product made with oil pressed from hemp seeds — which contains no cannabinoids — and claim that it contains CBD.

The bottom line is that there isn’t much that is stopping companies from selling subpar products that contain less CBD than they claim, have too much THC, or are tainted with contaminants. In fact, you’ll be surprised to hear how often this happens.

For example, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues to send warning letters every year to American CBD companies whose products contain less CBD than advertised.

Meanwhile, recent research done in the UK revealed that out of 29 CBD oils tested, only 11(38%) had a CBD content within 10% of what was advertised, whereas another 38% contained less than 50% of what the company claimed. One product had no CBD at all.

Given these findings, third-party testing is the best way to ensure that the CBD oil or other CBD products you’re buying will be safe and effective. Consequently, any CBD brand worth its salt has its products tested by an independent third-party lab.

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Types of Third-Party CBD Tests

When it comes to CBD, there are four main kinds of third-party testing: cannabinoid profile, pesticides, heavy metals, and residual solvents.

1. Cannabinoid Profile

Also known as a potency test or certificate of analysis (CoA), a cannabinoid profile test analyses the levels of cannabinoids in a CBD product. 

This is the most common type of third-party test because it’s the most necessary: it proves that the product contains as much as CBD as the company claims. For many companies, this is the only kind of third-party test they order.

This test is also important because it shows the levels of THC and other cannabinoids. For example, if a company claims that their products are free of THC, you can verify this claim by looking at the CoA. 

Similarly, if a company is claiming to sell a full-spectrum CBD oil, you can verify that it contains not only CBD and THC but other cannabinoids by checking the potency test document.

2. Pesticides, Heavy Metals, Residual Solvents

Besides the cannabinoid profile, third-party tests can also be done to look for the presence of various contaminants, including pesticides, heavy metals, and residual solvents. 

These tests are also important because hemp tends to work as a “bioaccumulator,” meaning that it absorbs heavy metals and other contaminants from the soil it’s grown in.

Additionally, third-party tests can also look for the presence of potentially harmful residual solvents, which can be left behind from the process used to extract CBD, terpenes, and other beneficial compounds from hemp.

3. Other CBD Lab Tests

Less commonly, third-party testing can also be done to examine the terpene profile of a CBD product. Terpenes are another class of beneficial active compounds that are present in full-spectrum hemp extract or added to CBD products separately.

Also, third-party tests can analyze CBD products for the presence of mold, mildew, bacteria, fungi, and other harmful compounds.

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How to Interpret Third-Party CBD Test Results

Finding a company that posts third-party test reports is half the battle. After all, just because a company tests its products doesn’t mean those tests will show good results. 

In fact, there are many cases where third-party tests contradict what the company is claiming, such as a cannabinoid profile showing a product that only contains CBD whereas the label claims that it contains full-spectrum hemp extract, meaning it should have multiple cannabinoids.

As such, it’s important to read the posted third-party CBD lab reports and be able to understand them. Although third-party test documents can seem overly complicated and scientific at first, they’re quite straightforward. 

There will usually be a column showing what the lab technicians tested for, and other columns showing how much of that substance was present. For example, for cannabinoid profile tests, there will be a column listing cannabinoids such as CBD, THC, CBG, and CBN, and another column showing their levels.

The letters “ND” mean that a substance is not present. Also, watch out for “N/A” and “NT,” mean a test wasn’t done at all. 

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Only Buy CBD from Third-Party-Tested Brands

Third-party testing is not required to sell CBD oil. However, given the lack of regulation in the industry, third-party tests are essential to confirm that you’re getting a safe, effective CBD product. 

Also, considering that comprehensive third-party testing typically costs a few hundred dollars, there’s no excuse not to do it.

Consequently, all reputable CBD companies choose to pay for third-party testing to give their customers peace of mind and separate themselves from misleading, subpar CBD manufacturers.

At Magnolia Edibles, we believe in transparency, quality, and trust. In line with these values, we only sell CBD oils and other CBD products from companies with third-party testing. 

The results of these tests can either be found directly on the websites of these brands or accessed by emailing the company.

Additionally, some companies provide batch numbers and QR codes to make it easy to look up lab test results. 

Regardless of which CBD oil you’re interested in purchasing, we highly recommend you only buy from companies that test their products through an independent lab.