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What is Third Party Testing and How to Read COA’s

By - Milo

Blogger. Researcher. Enthusiast.

What is Third Party Testing?

It is relatively simple to wrap your head around with getting into specifics. Basically, when a company manufactures a product their, Quality Assurance (QA) team can opt to send product samples to a third party (aka a different facility) to test the sample to receive an unbiased report to ensure the product falls within certain guidelines or requirements. Those guidelines can be standards set by the company, or a governing body such as the Federal Department of Agriculture (FDA).

Why Should We Care About Third Party Testing?

For many reasons! 

Because we care about where our hard earned money goes and that we receive what we’re paying for. The black or “grey” market has been ridiculed by the industry due to this main factor, there never has been any accountability by producers of Cannabis. A study conducted in Madrid, Spain found 88.3 % of street hashish was contaminated by fecal matter…this is exactly why legalization and regulation has been such a hot topic for many years now. We want to know what’s in the products we’re buying! 

Similar studies have confirmed a lot of unregulated CBD products don’t contain what they’re meant to (Read More Here). So, in conclusion, it’s important that companies send their products away for third party testing to receive unbiased lab results because each product can be different batch to batch.

What is a Certificate of Analysis (COA)?

This is the lab document that contains the information of the product after testing. Most companies will keep a batch record of a products timeline from source to finished product and a COA will be apart of this. The quality assurance department being a separate entity of the manufacturing department oversees all COA’s and signs off on the products to be released, adding another level of scrutiny to manufacturing.

As a department is responsible for the production of the product in question, if something goes wrong, there will be a paper trail to ensure no “shady” business occurs. This eliminates the risk of dishonest operations, imagine if you messed up a process that cost the company thousands of dollars, you may be tempted to overlook the mistake to avoid accountability to interested parties.

Where do I find my products COA?

Well, some states such as Texas, Utah, Indiana and Florida require by law that a QR code must be visible on all CBD products. But if a company such as AnuCBD wants to be as transparent as they can with their trusting customers, they will make the Lab Results easily accessible, regardless of the legal requirements. So just look on your product or company website to find all the COA documents you need.

The COA will give us a direct insight on what our product contains depending on what the product was tested for. You should view a companies COA if you’re trying it out for the first time or you want buy with some confidence if the company has not obtained your trust yet.

Glossary of COA Terms

ND (Non-Detect) – this result term dignifies that the substance is not detectable above the Lower Limit Detection (LLD)

LLD or LOD (Lower Limit Detection/Limit of Detection) – the lowest detectable amount of a substance distinguishable from the absence of the substance

ppb (parts per billion) – is a limit denotation to distinguish the amount of a contaminant, so the limit number mass is compared to the entire mass of the solution, the lab COA will show the amount found compared to the LLD of that particular containment allowed by the governing body, state or the lab in particular

COA Record Contents

Batch Number

Test ID

Matrix (Product)

Date and Who Conducted the Analysis

And the person who signed off on the results.

COA Header

Cannabinoid Potency

Here we find the what cannabinoids such as CBD are present in this particular product. So if you look at the mg/ml, means per full dropper you should expect a potency of 22.5mg.


Cannabinoid Results

Solvents/Heavy Metals

As you can see here, all the catagories have beeing marked with ND* meaning non-detectable. This product is good to go, however, pay attention to solvents if you were looking at a cannabis product such as BHO (butane honey oil).

Heavy Metal COA

Mycotoxins (Fungal Toxins)

Here we can see the limits set are less than (<) 20 parts per billion, so they need less than 20 units of the substance per billion units of the entire mass to pass.


Now that we’re pretty used to noticing what we should be looking for I don’t need to elaborate further. You now know how to make educated decisions when selecting your next CBD product!

We hope you found this article on what is third party testing and how to read COAs to be insightful and you walk away with a better understanding about the industry how to read a COA. Please leave a comment or share, it helps us promote quality content within the industry! 

Check out AnuCBDs store for the highest quality CBD available on the market or contact us if you have further questions

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