What Is a Certificate of Analysis and How Do You Read One?
Not every supplement claiming amazing health benefits is safe for your use.
Some supplements, oils, and SARMs can be a danger to your health.
Before you buy a new supplement, you need to check its certificate of analysis or CoA. This CoA gives potential customers insight into the safety, potency, and accuracy of a specific product.
The only issue with a CoA is it’s not always easy to read. By following this handy guide, you can learn the importance of CoAs and how to use one, too!
What Is a Certificate of Analysis (CoA)?
Nearly every reputable supplement and cannabis-based company have a certificate of analysis or a CoA. This certificate is a document based on the testing of a product by an accredited laboratory. The certificate details the compounds, their potencies, and purity level within a specific product.
Legitimate CoAs come from third-party laboratories that don’t affiliate with the product manufacturer. Reputable producers and manufactures will turn to these laboratories to test the accuracy and safety of their products.
Producers don’t have to test the quality of their products. Many producers choose not to test to cut costs and get their product on the market faster.
Companies that test their products and offer a CoA demonstrate a greater level of integrity and transparency with their customers. If the results of the testing aren’t what they intend, they can make adjustments. These companies want to offer their customers the best quality products.
How To Find the CoA
If a company had its products tested, they usually will share their CoA results. How they share these results with you will vary from company to company.
A popular option is to include a QR code directly on the product bottle or package. Users can scan the QR code with their phone to link to the CoA results.
Other companies will direct customers to their website to view the CoA for a specific product.
In some cases, you might not find any mention of the CoA results on the packaging. If you’ve checked online and still can’t find it, call the producer to request a CoA. Any reliable producer will happily direct you to their CoA or send you a copy.
As a word of warning, you should always avoid brands and producers that don’t test their products. The lack of testing can be detrimental to the health of yourself, your family members, or your pet.
Why a Certificate of Analysis Is Important
Knowing what’s inside the products you use and consume is important for your health. As a customer, you have a right to know what’s inside the supplements, tinctures, and other products you use. Brands with a certificate of the analysis show consumers that their products are reliable and safe to use or consume.
A CoA is a form of quality assurance. If a brand is stating that its products are of a particular quality, the CoA can confirm this claim.
Quality assurance checks for potential mistakes or defects in the product. Testing products will prevent potential problems or harm from occurring.
Unfortunately, many brands make bold and false claims about their products. When asked or confronted about these claims, they don’t have the test results or proof to verify. Try to avoid any brands that don’t have a CoA but make bold claims about the authenticity of their product.
A CoA will share all of the ingredient information regarding the specific product. Learning about what’s in the supplements, oils, and hormones you take will give you a better understanding of the product you’re using.
Reading a product certificate of analysis will help you determine which products are safe for your to use and which will benefit you the most.
How Do You Read a Certificate of Analysis?
You found a product but want to check its certificate of analysis first. You find the CoA online and have it open on your phone.
The document contains many numbers, charts, graphs, and tables. You feel overwhelmed looking at it and have no idea what any of this means.
Before you give up, reading a CoA is easier than it looks. Every CoA contains six pieces of information. Here’s how you can read a certificate of analysis.
The header is the very top section of the CoA report. The first few items you’ll find are the name of the accredited lab performing the test and the test date.
The date should be recent within the past nine months. Pay attention to the date as older dates are a sign the brand may have stopped testing the product.
In this same section, you’ll find the name of the product, product specification, and the producer’s name. The batch number, sample size, and sample ID are also in this section.
The batch number on the CoA should match the batch number on the product you’re planning to buy. If they don’t match, the CoA may not have the most relevant information on the product.
Below the header is the testing summary and profile table. This section contains the actual results of the testing, generally measured in milligrams.
The summary shares the tested main ingredients and contaminants. The potency is the most common aspect tested. If this is the case, there will be a section that declares “tested” under potency.
Common contaminants tested include pesticides, filth and foreign materials, heavy metals, and solvents. Each of these items should consist of a “passed” rating. This test rating guarantees there are either no contaminants or that the trace amounts are safe for use.
The Profile Table
Below the summary is the profile table or the details of the test. The profile table lists all of the ingredients and compounds found in the product. CoAs will generally list the most prominent ingredients first and the least amounts at the bottom.
The table or tables consist of a column that states “Result (mg/g).” This column shares the number of milligrams (mg) of each ingredient concentrated in the product. This may show as mg/ml depending if the product tested was an oil or a liquid.
Some ingredients may show up as blank or N/A. An empty result means the test didn’t detect any noteworthy amounts in the product.
The percent (%) column is the percentage of the ingredient’s overall weight in the product. It shares the same information as the mg to gram result but in a more user-friendly presentation.
Pay attention to the main ingredient in your product. If you’re looking at the CoA of a CBD product, the more prominent ingredient should be the CBD. The amount of CBD listed in the CoA can tell you how accurate the brand’s label is.
Some brands may under-label or over-label the amount of the active ingredient. Checking the CoA will give you the most accurate amount.
The safety results section is the detailed table containing each contaminant tested in the product. This table consists of the contaminant name (Analyte) and columns labeled Action Level, Result, and LOQ.
The Action Level column shares the safe limits for each contaminant. These may vary depending on the state and whether the product is topical or orally consumable.
The Action Level uses a ppm or ppb measurement. One ppm is the same as one mg per kg and one ppb is the equivalent of one ug per kg.
An Action Level of 500 ppm for a contaminant equals 500 mg of the contaminant for every kg of the product. This is a very tiny amount and safe for most human consumption.
The Result column will share the trace amount of the contaminant or include “passed.” LOQ stands for Limit of Quantification. A <LOQ rating means the product contains less than the allowable amount of the specific contaminant.
Check the Safety Results section to find out what the major contaminants the CoA tested. You’ll want to ensure the CoA tested every major contaminant to ensure optimal safety.
The last section in a certificate of analysis is the footer. Like the header, the footer also contains necessary information regarding the legitimacy of the CoA and the lab running the tests.
In this section, look for signatures from the testing laboratory to show they’re confident with their results. All legally compliant testing labs must have a license number included in the header or footer. This ensures you can trust the results and testing performed by the lab.
You may find a CLIA number on some cannabis-based products. The CLIA isn’t necessary but it demonstrates the product went through rigorous testing and meets standards for medical-grade products.
Lookout For Red Flags
While CoAs indicate the reliability of a brand, not all brands share the details of their certificate of analysis. Some may skip entire sections, such as the Safety Results if certain parts of their product didn’t pass safety standards.
Major red flags to look for include missing Safety Tests and missing key ingredients. Carefully check the potency and percentage of major ingredients to ensure they’re consistent with the claims on the product label.
How To Get a CoA
To obtain a CoA, the producer will need to send their product or products to an accredited third-party lab for testing. The lab will audit the test and have it reviewed by certified contractors. The USDA, DEA, ISO, and others will review the tests and grant certifications if approved.
The goal is to find a reputable laboratory that meets the requirements for a specific product. They’ll know how to properly test, handle, and manage the product for testing. You’ll also receive a legitimate CoA with the most results of rigorous testing.
Cost of a CoA
The costs of a certificate of analysis vary from product to product. Labs may use different methods of testing for different products. CBD products will follow different testing compared to SARMs (selective androgen receptor modulator).
The costs vary from around $30 to over $100. The price will increase for additional and full-panel tests. Any brand or company offering consumables should opt for full-panel tests.
Who Uses a Certificate of Analysis?
Any company offering products claiming to offer health benefits should test their products. This is particularly important for any brand offering consumable products by humans or pets.
Several industries use CoAs to test the safety and potency of their products.
The CBD Industry
The CBD industry is one of the most popular industries making use of CoAs to test their CBD products. CoAs test the potency of the main CBD ingredients along with other cannabinoids, aromatic terpenes, and THC levels. Testing THC is important to ensure it falls under the legal limit of 0.3%.
The marijuana and hemp industries use CoAs to test the purity and safety of their products. Labs will test the purity levels of an isolate or the combined levels of cannabinoids in a full-spectrum product.
Federally legal hemp needs to contain 0.3% or less THC, too.
The Bodybuilding and Fitness Industry
Bodybuilding and fitness often require the use of vitamin and chemical supplements to stimulate muscle recovery and growth. These products, such as SARMs, receive CoAs to ensure the ingredients are safe and effective.
You can find reliable and safe SARMs for sale online.
CBD and other extracts are becoming popular ingredients in many pet products and medicines. Smaller animals, like cats and dogs, may have sensitivities to these compounds. CoAs can give pet owners insight into the safety of the supplements they wish to give their pets.
Supplements, hormones, and essential oils are becoming the new go-to in medicine. Since Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t approve or test all supplements and hormones, producers must find other reliable ways to test their products. Reputable companies will test their products to ensure they meet quality assurance and safety standards.
Have You Checked the Certificate of Analysis Yet?
If you have supplements and herbal extracts at home, have you checked to see if they have a certificate of analysis? Checking the CoA of these products will give you the most accurate insight into the safety and potency of your favorite supplements and SARMs.
Do enjoy learning ways to make your life a little easier? Check our latest How-To articles to learn more great tips on choosing SARMs and natural remedies!