How to read a COA

How to Read a Certificate Of Analysis ("COA")

Jun 26, 2024Victor Mikhailovsky

As the popularity of CBD products continues to rise, so does the importance of verifying their quality and safety. A Certificate of Analysis (COA) is an essential tool for this purpose.

This document, provided by third-party labs, details the contents and safety of CBD products. Understanding how to read a COA can help you make informed decisions and ensure you’re consuming high-quality, safe products.

What is a Certificate of Analysis?

A Certificate of Analysis (COA) is a report from an independent lab that verifies the contents of a CBD product. It includes detailed information about the cannabinoid profile, potency, and presence of contaminants. Reputable CBD companies provide COAs to demonstrate transparency and ensure customer safety.

Key Elements of a COA

Reading a COA involves understanding several key components. Each section provides critical information about the product's quality and safety.

Cannabinoid Profile

The cannabinoid profile lists the various cannabinoids present in the product, including CBD, THC, and others like CBG, CBN, and CBC. This section shows the concentration of each cannabinoid, usually expressed in milligrams per gram (mg/g) or percentage (%).


  • CBD Content: Verify the amount of CBD matches what’s advertised on the product label. This ensures you receive the expected potency.
  • THC Levels: Ensure THC levels are below the legal limit (0.3% for hemp-derived products in the US). Higher levels could cause psychoactive effects and legal issues.

Terpene Profile

Terpenes are aromatic compounds found in hemp that contribute to the product’s flavor and potential therapeutic effects.

A COA may list the terpene profile, showing the types and concentrations of terpenes present.

Understanding the terpene content can help you choose products with specific benefits and flavors.

Contaminant Testing

Safety is paramount, and the COA should include results for contaminant testing. This section checks for:

  • Pesticides: Ensure the product is free from harmful pesticides that could pose health risks.
  • Heavy Metals: Look for results indicating the absence of heavy metals like lead, arsenic, mercury, and cadmium, which can be toxic.
  • Microbials: Verify the product is free from harmful bacteria, mold, and yeast that could cause infections or other health issues.
  • Residual Solvents: If the product was made using a solvent-based extraction method, ensure it’s free from residual solvents like butane or ethanol that could be harmful if ingested.

Batch Information

A COA should include batch information, including a unique batch number. This allows you to verify that the specific product you have matches the lab report provided. It also helps track quality across different batches of the same product.

Lab Information

The COA should clearly state the name, address, and contact information of the lab that performed the testing. Reputable labs are usually ISO-certified, which ensures they meet high standards for accuracy and reliability. Verify the lab’s credentials to ensure the COA is legitimate.

Steps to Read a COA

  1. Check the Source: Verify the COA is from a reputable, independent lab. Look for ISO certification and cross-check the lab’s credentials.
  2. Match the Batch Number: Ensure the batch number on the COA matches the batch number on your product. This confirms the report applies to your specific product.
  3. Review Cannabinoid Content: Compare the CBD and THC levels to the product label to confirm accuracy. Ensure THC levels comply with legal limits.
  4. Examine Contaminant Results: Check for the absence of pesticides, heavy metals, microbials, and residual solvents. The product should pass all safety tests.
  5. Consider the Terpene Profile: If available, review the terpene content to understand the product’s potential effects and flavor profile.

Importance of a COA

Lab Testing

A COA is crucial for ensuring the safety, potency, and quality of CBD products. It protects consumers by providing transparency and confirming that the product meets advertised claims.

Without a COA, there’s no way to verify the contents and safety of a CBD product, making it a risky purchase.

Reputable CBD companies, like Organic Grit, provide COAs for every product batch. This transparency builds trust with consumers and demonstrates a commitment to quality and safety.

By reviewing a COA, you can confidently choose products that meet high standards.

Common Issues to Watch For

While reading a COA, be aware of common issues that might indicate a low-quality product:

  • Missing or Incomplete COA: Products without a COA or with an incomplete COA should be avoided. This lack of transparency raises questions about the product’s quality and safety.
  • Inconsistent Cannabinoid Levels: Significant discrepancies between the COA and the product label suggest poor quality control and potential mislabeling.
  • Failed Contaminant Tests: If a product fails any contaminant tests, it should not be consumed. Contaminants pose serious health risks.

The Bottom Line

Reading a Certificate of Analysis (COA) is essential for ensuring the quality and safety of CBD products.

By understanding the key elements of a COA, such as the cannabinoid profile, contaminant testing, and lab information, you can make informed decisions and choose high-quality CBD products.

At Organic Grit, we prioritize transparency and quality, providing detailed COAs for our products to ensure you receive safe and effective CBD. Always review a COA before purchasing CBD to protect your health and ensure you get the best possible product.


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