I was recently a Q & A panelist for Hemp Extract, and the very first question asked was “How do we know we are getting a good Hemp Extract product?” This question was followed by questions like “How do you know if the product is tested?” and “Where do we get this information when we are buying Hemp Extract?” Then another person asked if it was better to buy it in a retail store because the stores would probably make certain that the product was safe (and legal.)
I started to say yes to this final question, remembering the rigid testing and vetting CVS Pharmacy put us through when Strength of Hope products were selected to be part of their Hemp Extract launch last Spring. But then I stopped short, also remembering a CBS report where undercover reporters went into a Hemp Extract store and bought 20 products. After testing all 20 products, only a couple of products had the amount of Hemp Extract they advertised.
It really concerns me that there is so much confusion out there about Hemp Extract.
For the past couple years, the FDA has sent several warning letters to companies that produce Hemp Extract products that make health claims on their packaging, website and marketing materials.
Here is a summary of the CBS story I mentioned. This past year CBS did a test of 20 different Hemp Extract items they purchased in a store. The items included popcorn, gummies and oils. They sent the products to two labs for testing. Both labs tested the products twice.
The two labs actually got similar results for most of the products, but three of the products got different results from the two labs. Of the 20 tested:
- 2 products had more Hemp Extract than claimed.
- 4 products had between 75% and 100% of what they claimed.
- 1 product had about 50% of what it claimed.
- 8 products had less than 25% of what they claimed.
- 4 of them did not have any Hemp Extract at all.
- 2 oils had small amounts of Hemp Extract, but the label did not say how much Hemp Extract was present.
If you wonder how this is possible, there are several reasons:
- For those companies that do test their products, labs can use different types of testing equipment, giving differing test results.
One type of equipment could be best suited and more accurate for plant and flower, another for extracts, while another might be more accurate with edibles and oils. To date, there are no national, consistent requirements for the equipment to be used for testing Hemp Extract, or for the type of test that should be administered.
Every state has its own rules regarding testing for Hemp Extract. Even within the states, labs use different technology and methods. Lack of standardization can create errors, and as a result, labs can have different results when testing the same sample.
Testing products themselves requires different types of tests for different products. For a product like the popcorn tested by CBS, if the Extract is mixed with cheddar flavoring powder and sprinkled on the popcorn, is it even possible for one piece of popcorn to have the exact same amount of the sprinkle as each other piece?
- Acceptable variances in Lab testing accuracy differs, so of course this means the products’ test results can vary.
In most states, labs are allotted up to a 30% margin of error above and below the actual sampled contents. So, for a product that, in actuality, contains 100 MG of Hemp Extract, given this acceptable variance, a lab test may report anywhere from 70 to 130 MG of the labelled Hemp Extract, due to the variance in the testing.
- What, when and how Hemp Extract products are regulated and tested varies state by state, as well.
Not only the what, when and how, varies by state, even the requirements for product labeling varies from state to state. So, what one manufacturer is required by their state to say may be different than another who manufactured in a different state. The result is a shopper (whether online or in a retail store) comparing two products manufactured in different states like comparing apples to oranges.
- Even states that have testing regulations in place, enforcement and compliance is often an issue.
In several states, the only way a Hemp Extract product manufacturer is reported to state officials is if they fail a test. There is no reporting to anyone if a company passes its test.
If that is the case, then what if a company simply doesn’t do lab tests? There is little or no state enforcement in place for a manufacturer to actually do the test before selling product. There is no list of companies that do test. There is no one looking at the products to see if they are tested.
The Hemp Extract industry has been selling products nationally and globally online for years now without testing. It is very important that as a consumer, you take care to purchase products that are actually tested, with test results readily available for review.
How can you find the product test results to know they are tested?
More companies are starting to post their third-party lab tests on their websites. If you can’t find them there, you can always email the companies and request a copy of their tests. These tests are also called Certificates of Analysis, or COAs for short.
Strength of Hope posts all of our lab tests on our website at strengthofhope.com/coa . We do this for every product batch manufactured that is available for sale, whether it is online or in retail stores. Also, for ease and transparency, on our website, each product page contains a link directly to the test results for that product.
The FDA and USDA have indicated they will release national regulations either by the end of 2019 or Q1 2020. We are hopeful that this will change how things are regulated and will give customers more confidence in those companies that are in compliance with regulations.
In the mean-time, as a customer, it really is good to be diligent about the companies you choose to purchase Hemp Extract products from.
At Strength of Hope, we are proud of our products, we are proud of our formulations and manufacturing practices, and we are proud to list our ingredients; we are proud to test our products, and to make our test results available online at strengthofhope.com/coa
Most of all, we feel it is our responsibility to make every Strength of Hope product the best it can be. We are thankful that we are trusted by our customers, as that trust is so important to us.
When we began our company, we developed Hemp Extract products for us personally, tested them and shared them with family and friends. We discovered the amazing benefits of Hemp Extract, and as founders we got back our hopes, dreams, love and laughter. We are on a mission to help others do the same. We want everyone who discovers Strength of Hope products to understand why we say welcome to better.
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