Episode 9: ABCs of a COA

CBD Podcast Episode 9

Joe: On this episode of "The CBD University Podcast," we are talking quality and compliance again. This time we detail a certificate of analysis what you should be looking for in reviewing these, how they ensure the quality and compliance of our products, and why they are so important. The ABCs of a COA coming up on this episode of "The CBD University Podcast," and it starts right now.

I'm Joe Agostinelli host to "The CBD University Podcast." If you are a returning listener, thanks for tuning in again. And if you are a new listener, we are glad you found us on your podcast platform of choice. I invite you to subscribe to our podcast on your favorite app to receive notifications when new episodes are published each week, and we'll go into detail about those platforms and apps a little later on before we close out this episode.

Way back...it's hard to believe that we're already using the term way back but now that we're a couple of months in, way back on episode two, we introduced you to Margaret Richardson, Global Widget's vice president for regulatory, quality, and compliance. We also introduced you...don't forget, you can catch episodes, full video episodes of our podcast on our YouTube channel where you can check out once again, Carl the compliance camel is back.

Margaret: We love coming.

Joe: Yeah. So he hasn't said much, but we welcome both of you back to the podcast. And we're talking about the certificate of analysis, as I mentioned in the episode introduction, so we'll get right to it. Thank you both for coming back on the podcast. I told you we'd have you back.

Margaret: I appreciate it. I'm looking forward to it. Carl always enjoys talking about compliance.

Joe: That's awesome. First off, when we talk about a certificate of analysis, what exactly are we talking about?

Margaret: Right. So, certificate of analysis, so we talked a little bit last time about the Code of Federal Regulations, which is kind of the book that the government, federal government puts out, the FDA. The certificate of analysis has really been developed by the state regulators. It was started, really, on the West Coast by states like Utah and Colorado.

And it was designed to make sure that whenever someone was using CBD products that they had a product that was safe, and that has now spread. So, most states require a full panel certificate of analysis and there are seven distinct parts of that panel. And so, when you're purchasing a CBD product, you always wanna make sure that that information is available to you.

Joe: And when we talk about purchasing a CBD product, obviously consumers can do it directly from our website or through our distribution partners. Are there any differences in a COA that a distribution partner may look for as opposed to what a consumer would look for, or are they both the same?

Margaret: They're absolutely identical. We have to provide the full panel to any person that has access to our products, so they can be assured that nobody's getting different information.

Joe: And what exactly is contained in a COA, and what does one look like?

Margaret: Well, we have some samples. Of course, as you mentioned, you can go onto the website and just look at those without necessarily having a product and using the QR code. So, they are freely available. But really, what you're looking for is seven distinctive parts. So, the first thing obviously is the potency, you want the potency of the product to match what's on the COA. So, if you have 50 milligrams on the label, you want to make sure that that product has 50 milligrams of CBD.

The other thing you wanna took for is terpenes. This is particularly important for folks who are looking for understanding what's completely in the product. So, CBD plus the terpenes is usually the way you think of CBD infused products. So, it usually gives you the host or the panel of different terpenes that are included in the product. So, those two items are fairly standard, most companies that are selling CBD products will it at least have the potency on their panels. What we've done is really gone with the full panel.

And if you remember, I think you've spoken with Andrew from Greens, and he's talked about how the panels are so important for things like pesticide and residual solvents. So, we really looked at expanding and incorporating as many tests as we could for pesticides, because the hemp product is an agricultural product, and it is growing out in, you know, just in the open air.

Although there is no pesticide approved for industrial hemp, you can have potential where it's been growing and the pesticide can blow across it. And because of the extraction process, you could end up with a pretty intensive amount of pesticide if you're not checking to make sure that the product that you use as an active raw material in your CBD product does not have any pesticides.

So, we have a full panel pesticides that's required from those states. It gives you an idea that there is no, you know, no issues with the pesticide. The second is residual solvents. So, residual solvents are usually associated with the extraction process. And again, you want to make sure that you're not getting a product that then has more or higher amount that's concentrated in your final raw material CBD that you use to put into your final finished good.

So, those are really important. The next thing you wanna look at is your microbial, again, making sure that you don't have things like Staph [SP], E. coli, any of those types of issues in it. As you imagine, a lot of our products are edibles. So, your gummies, your oils, you don't wanna be taking a gummy or an oil that has, you know, some type of microbial agent in it, it could make you sick.

So, you wanna make sure that whoever you're purchasing your CBD product from that they've got this full panel and you're getting zero as it relates to those types of microbial content. We also run for mycotoxins that lets you know where whether or not there's any potential for contamination from black mold. This is done because industrial hemp, once it's stored, sometimes it can grow mold.

So, this gives you an idea of whether or not vertically integrated manufacturers are making sure that their industrial hemp is stored properly at 41 degrees Fahrenheit as required and between 55 and 62 degrees relative humidity. Again, something that you should be checking with your CBD provider. And finally, that there's no foreign material or filth in the product, that's a visual inspection. So, those seven things are checked on every single batch that we manufacture every day.

Joe: And in regards to the answer that she was talking about a couple of episodes ago, and if you did not listen or tune in to that episode, feel free to listen on demand. But we introduced you to Dr. Andrew Hall. He is with Green Scientific Labs and talks more about our independent third-party lab testing. So, if you have not done so, I invite you to also listen to that episode and you will find that episode number six, just a couple of episodes ago. Does every product have a COA no matter the product line?

Margaret: That's correct. Every single product, plus we do it on every batch. So, it's not just the product. But for instance, on most days, we might run 10 different batches of products. So, out of that particular batch, we actually take 20 samples out of the batch. We send those samples, as we said to a third party. Those third parties should be ISO certified 17025.

That's the requirement for full panels and for all the state regulatory agencies who, again, you wanna make sure that whoever you're getting that information from is ISO certified. And we do more than one test. So, you're talking about 20 different product samples are tested from every single batch finished goods. And that's not by us, that's by a third party to make sure that it meets the requirements of the label.

Joe: And in case if you have not seen a COA [inaudible 00:07:58], this is where watching in our YouTube channel would...

Margaret: Be helpful.

Joe: ...would be helpful, but we'll also we'll post a link on the description, too, in our podcast platform. So, if you happen to catch the description, you can always click over and see where you can find them online. But since you have some here, we'd love to do show and tell.

Margaret: Sure.

Joe: And Carl's here, we're gonna...

Margaret: He's gonna help us with that.

Joe: Yeah, exactly. So, what does a COA look like? And then we can talk about some of the items that you already explained.

Margaret: So, I think most importantly, you wanna make sure that there's a batch number. So, you'll see on all COAs, or at least ours, has a batch number. The batch number's a unique identifier that tells you that product was made. We can actually go back and know the exact date and time that the product was made, no two batch numbers are the same. That's a really important item.

One of the other things you'll see that we kind of do that's unique is the picture of the product. So, you can see that there's an actual recreation of the label. Again, that's an additional piece of information that your CBD providers should have. And we do make sure that that's on there. It's a visual check to confirm that this is the product that you're looking at, and it matches the label.

As I mentioned also, the CBD potency, that's gonna be very important. That should match the label. In this case, it does match the label potency of 225. The other really critical item here is this has its own separate QR code. So this QR code is only linked to Green. So, there's no way that we can change these results.

So, you will always be able to go and click on that QR code in the website, and that will ensure that there's nothing we've done to change these results. That's really important, it ensures...and if your provider doesn't have it, they can actually alter the results. And that means that you may not be getting the full CBD potency that you're looking for or there may be issues with your product, you never know.

The other item, as we talked about was terpenes. Again, this is basically just a representation of the different types of terpenes in the finished good. This will vary, honestly, depending on the type of product. For instance, our essential oils, because the essential oils themselves have terpenes in them, you'll get a much broader spectrum of the types of terpenes. So, it also depends on the raw materials. So, you're not always gonna get the same panel every time you test the product.

As we talked about the pesticides, again, you can see we test for almost 100 different pesticides. The goal, of course, is industrial hemp is not approved for pesticides. So, there should not be anything flagging in terms of pesticides. Now, I do wanna caution folks, that it doesn't mean that there's nothing. So, it's not a non-detectable or zero number, it means that it's under the limit that's allowed in the United States. So, that's a really important thing to note, simply because here in the US, we've used a lot of pesticides all the time.

And so, you're always gonna have some residual amount, for instance, in the soil. But it's to make sure it's not over the allowed amount. Residual solvents, this has to do with the actual extraction process associated with taking industrial hemp and creating that CBD. And so, you wanna make sure in that process that you're not having a leaching of any of the chemicals related to production of the CBD.

And this is the way we do that. Again, you may have small amounts, but it has to be under the required limits. And those limits are set by state. So, most of the states have actual limits, you can go online and look at their statutes and get an idea of what they've done in terms of their limits and that's what we're following.

Finally, we talked about microbes. Really important to make sure that you don't have microbes in the product, particularly your edibles. If you're thinking about I'm gonna eat a gummy or I'm gonna have some oil and, you know, there's something in it, that obviously is a problem. So, making sure, particularly with your edibles, that your CBD provider has a microbe analysis on every batch, because you wanna make sure each batch is safe.

Day to day, there may be variances in the batches, maybe they didn't clean the equipment properly, and that may be an issue. So, you wanna make sure that every single batch that you use has the microbe analysis. And then we talked about maitotoxins. The maitotoxins are really an expression if there's any black mold. Industrial hemp, again, is an agricultural product. If it's not stored properly, it will grow black mold, and then you'll get that in the extraction process.

We talked about filth and foreign material, and then, of course, heavy metals. Again, the heavy metals doesn't mean that you're gonna have zero. It really focuses on making sure that it's below the limit that's dangerous. So, you're not gonna get a zero number on that because a lot of those heavy metals are naturally occurring in the soil, it's below the limit.

Joe: And we talked about multistage testing. So, is this is a summary of all of the test results, and then the independent third party lab results?

Margaret: So, multistage refers to the fact that you're gonna do testing on raw materials, which is the ingredients, so to speak, of the formulation that we're making. So, you wanna test that coming in because there could be a problem with the raw materials, you never know. So that is a whole completely different test. The second part of the multistage is in process.

So, once we mix kind of in a...if you think about making a recipe, making cookies, you first weigh out your raw materials, then you kind of put them in a small batch. You can mix them together. We then test at that small batch size to make sure you don't have any problems with the product.

And then the third is the finished goods. So, once we pack them up, they're in the bottle or box, or sleeve that you're receiving the product in, we then send that to the third party for the third-party testing. We also do our in-house testing. So, that's really the multistage, you want kind of before, middle, and end.

Joe: And then how can consumers access a COA?

Margaret: So, the COAs are always available, all of our packages come with QR codes, which you can access with your phone. So, you click on it, it'll automatically take you to the COA associated with the batch for that particular product. So, it's linked in our system to the batch number, and you can double-check because our products all have batch numbers on them.

So, you can see the batch number, you can see the COA tied to that. The second way you can check it if you don't have product and you just wanna look online, we actually have those posted for you. It won't be specific to a batch but the information is available. Green, as I said, also has their QR code and, of course, that would link to our batch, too. So, there's three different ways that they can get that information.

Joe: Anything else we didn't cover on the ABCs of a COA and CBD?

Margaret: I think, again, two key messages, one, every single time a manufacturer makes a batch, they should have an individual COA for that batch. So, really important, and the second is full panel. Just because the potency is correct doesn't mean that the product is safe. The full panel ensures that the product is safe.

Joe: I wanna thank Margaret Richardson, our vice president for regulatory compliance and quality back on our podcast. And as we have some new initiatives going into 2020, along those lines, we will certainly be having you back again very soon.

Margaret: Great.

Joe: Once again, Margaret Richardson, our vice president for regulatory quality and compliance as we talk all about the COA, a Certificate of Analysis, what you should be looking for. You can see the video on our YouTube channel or everything that we had explained in our show and tell. And if you are listening on your favorite podcast app in the description of the podcast episode, we'll have the link as to where you can see and find COAs.

And then obviously, when you are using our products, you can use that QR code that's on the back of the package to see the COA for that batch. And I do invite you if you have not yet done so, do subscribe to our podcast on your favorite podcast app.

In addition to the Global Widget YouTube channel, you can also find us on all of the national podcast apps, including Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, SoundCloud, TuneIn radio. And as we head into the new year, look for new platforms coming soon, including iHeartRadio in January. For now, I'm Joe Agostinelli, the host of "The CBD University Podcast." Thanks for listening.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. CBD products are not intended to treat, cure, or prevent any disease or condition. Always consult your personal physician about CBD and using CBD products. CBD should never be used by anyone under the age of 18. This podcast is not intended to provide legal advice regarding the legal status of CBD and CBD products.