Any credible brand will provide independent lab verifications for their products. These reports, often called Certificates of Analysis (COA), are the key to differentiating the quality of products.
As a consumer, it’s vital that you understand how to read these reports and why they matter. After all, you deserve to know what you’re putting in your body. This article will walk you through the different parts of a COA and so you can read them yourself.
Why do lab reports matter?
Without real guidance from the FSA in the UK or the FDA in the US, companies are currently unregulated. It’s up to you, the consumer, to do your own research before you buy.
Unfortunately, the explosion in interest around products and wellness, as well as the lack of regulations, have attracted a number of shady companies who are selling poor quality product. In many cases, these companies do not release independent lab reports because their products contain harmful substances or do not possess the cannabinoid contents advertised.
That’s why leading brands now leading the way on disclosure. Top producers are publicly displaying full product information via third party conducted lab reports. This reporting provides you, the customer, with all the information you need to make an educated decision on if the product is right for your body.
Lab reports allow you to determine the content, quality and verify that your product is free of contaminants including heavy metals, mold, pesticides and more. In some cases, lab reports may even be provided for other ingredients in a product, like carrier oils.
If you’re a Fog customer or prospective customer, trust that you can always find comprehensive lab reports on each of our batches here as well as on our product pages. The quality of our product is our number one priority and we want you to know it.
How to read lab reports?
Now that you understand why we need third party lab reports, now we can get into how to read one.
When a test is performed, there are a number of possible screenings that can be run on a given sample. These screenings are used to determine the potency and purity of the product. Below we dive into the two most important parts of any lab report.
Cannabinoids are the derived molecules that provide the main therapeutic properties. You’ll be familiar with more well-known examples.
The tests are the most common form of screening done on products. The report will tell you the different levels of each cannabinoid in your product. Through these reports, you’ll be able to figure out:
The spectrum of the product – is it isolate, full or broad spectrum?
The potency of the product – how much does your product contain?
If a product contains other non-decarboxylated raw material
Here’s what you should expect by spectrum:
A full spectrum product contains a wide range of cannabinoids including THC:
A broad-spectrum product contains a wide range of cannabinoids present, without Delta-9 THC:
An isolate-based product contains:
Sometimes products that are labelled as full or broad spectrum might not look like it on lab reports. If you run into reports that look like this, it’s important to review the terpene profile. Products with an assortment of terpenes are actually full/broad spectrum. Isolates do not contain terpenes.
In these cases, this is usually due to testing lower concentration end product vs the extract itself. But don’t fret, a complex terpene profile still means that the product is properly labeled as full/broad spectrum.
Terpenes are the scented oils derived from plants that are present in full and broad spectrum products. Each of these compounds offers potential health benefits and interacts with the cannabinoids and other contents of exact to produce what’s known as the Entourage Effect.
A terpene screening shows you the concentration of terpenes in a given product, usually measured as parts per million (PPM). These reports are generally straightforward to read.
Heavy Metal Screening
This screening ensures extract is free of heavy metal contamination. It measures heavy metals like arsenic, cadmium, mercury and lead against allowable limits:
This screening verifies that a sample is free of mycotoxins which are toxic substances produced by fungus:
This report verifies that a sample is free of pesticides. This confirms that the source was grown using pesticide-free and organic methods in clean soil:
Solvent Residue Screening
Solvent Residue Screening
Many extraction methods used to create extracts require the use of chemical solvents. This report displays if any solvent residue remains after extraction:
Now that you understand why lab reports are so important, and how to read them, you're ready to assess whether you're purchasing the highest quality product.