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The Importance of Testing CBD Products

Yet some manufacturers reduce their overall testing to decrease the cost of production.

In the short-term, the business may see a financial benefit by lowering the production overheads and potentially reducing the time to get a product to market.

However, as a company reduces its testing it also increases its risks.

What are the risks of inadequate testing?

Not testing a raw material can lead to a finished product with lower quality and value. The product may achieve a lower price, reducing your profits. You may even risk not covering the cost of production and making an overall loss.

Merchandise that is found to be contaminated or not fit for purpose may lead to a product recall. Product recalls cause loss of revenue, incur additional expense in removing the products plus the cost of disposing of the faulty goods. Product recalls may also carry government fines if the products are found to be illegal.

Without the proper testing framework and audit trail, you cannot demonstrate compliance with quality systems such as ISO or HACCP. If accreditation is on your quality roadmap, robust testing is required.

It’s hard to quantify the damage to a brand’s reputation but it’s potentially the most costly risk of inadequate testing. Consumers losing trust in a product could have a long-term impact from which your brand may not recover.

In the UK, the CBD market is thriving with high demand from consumers but the legislation and regulation remain low. This exposes the industry to exploitation by non-reputable parties.

CBD extracts and isolates are a high-value commodity so falling-foul of cowboys can prove extremely costly for CBD manufacturers.

CBD manufacturers can help protect themselves by having a sample of concentrate independently tested before committing to buy a larger volume:

  • Check the CBD content reflects the cost of the concentrate
  • Use the THC (and other controlled cannabinoids) content to determine if the final product will be within legal limits.
  • Ensure the levels of contaminants, such as heavy metals, will also be low enough for legal sale.

Don’t rely on the supplier’s word alone before you buying a CBD concentrate.

If the supplier provides a Certificate of Analysis check the batch number is the same as the one you are buying and that the test is still in date.

Phytovista Laboratories recommends to always conduct your own independent testing before making a big investment. This may increase your up-front costs but will help mitigate your risks in the long run.

The importance of CBD testing according to governing bodies

“It is the Home Office view that, to establish that the definition is met, testing e.g. a full spectrum analysis to the appropriate threshold by an independent and licensed UK company, and provision of comprehensive and independently verifiable information and research of an appropriately rigorous nature will be required.”

The role of the Home Office is to uphold UK CBD law. The above statement from their Drug Licensing Factsheet- Cannabis, CBD and other cannabinoids makes it clear that the Home Office considers testing as necessary to confirm cannabidiol products are fully compliant with the law. This includes both imported CBD products and those made in the UK.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has issued a deadline to all CBD manufacturers requiring them to have a validated Novel Foods Application by 31st March 2021. Products that do not have a validated application by this date will no longer be allowed to be sold.

Part of this application requires analytical lab data on the composition and purity of the CBD product.

In their 2019 report, CBD in the UK, the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis (CMC) discusses the importance of testing cannabidiol products. The CMC states that laboratory testing is “…vital to the integrity and reputation of the CBD sector…”.

Citing several studies from across Europe and the US, the CMC highlights how many CBD products are incorrectly labelled or contain illegal amounts of controlled cannabinoids like THC. The studies include the CMC’s UK study where Phytovista Laboratories was chosen as the independent testing lab.

All these studies have cast doubt on the quality of CBD products available to consumers. So, the CMC urges the CBD industry to undertake voluntary and robust self-regulation – and that involves testing.

Importance of using UK testing facilities

The UK hemp growing industry cannot currently compete with growers from other countries. This is partly due to restrictions on the legal parts of the plant that CBD can be obtained from.

This pushes UK retailers and manufacturers to source CBD extracts from outside of the UK, often through brokers who themselves work with several suppliers and producers.

As the supply chain lengthens, it introduces additional risks.

  • Standards for hemp cultivation differ from country to country.
  • Laws governing legal THC content may be incompatible with UK law.
  • Testing standards and methodologies may not satisfy UK authorities.

Working with a UK-based facility with specific knowledge of UK standards and regulations will, therefore, help reduce risks of importing CBD raw materials into the UK.

Examples of incompatible testing standards and laws

  1. US federal law says that only low-THC hemp-derived CBD can be exported. But UK law only allows imports of CBD extracts that contain no controlled substances. The plant strain is not a factor. Therefore, US law would be insufficient for entry into the UK.
  2. The term ND or “not-detected” is frequently used by US-based labs. This is not a scientifically accepted result by UK standards: being “not-detected” could simply reflect the low-quality testing equipment and not the actual content of the sample. And in regards to a controlled substance, would not indicate that the sample is legal for entry into the UK.

Using testing labs from Europe or the US does not imply a CBD product is inadequately tested or of lower quality. Having CBD extracts tested in UK facilities is about working with a partner that will understand what the UK authorities need in terms of test results.

Working with PhytoVista Laboratories

One of the benefits of using PhytoVista Laboratories as your UK CBD testing lab is knowing you are working with a CBD specialist. You will benefit from our:

  • Knowledge of UK testing standards
  • Experience in the CBD market
  • Expertise as an analytical laboratory

Our testing services will support you as you source CBD concentrates right through to testing your final product.

Our robust testing methodologies will help you reduce your financial risk of working within the UK’s CBD industry. Get in touch to learn more about working with PhytoVista Laboratories.