Certifications: what do they stand for?

The following quality marks or certificates apply to CBD products. Within the European market, these labels indicate that a food or supplement has been grown, produced and packaged in a safe and responsible manner. It also means that the manufacturer has taken measures to detect production errors. A batch that may have something wrong can be recalled if necessary.

Production standards and safety

 

GMP – Good Manufacturing Practices

Good Manufacturing Practices or GMP is a quality assurance system for the human and veterinary pharmaceutical, cosmetic and food industries.

The quality of a medicine can never be fully determined by analysing its composition. Not all possible impurities can be demonstrated and not every pill can be analysed. Quality can therefore only be guaranteed if the entire production process is also carried out in a precisely prescribed and controlled manner.

GMP is about accurately recording how and under what conditions a product is made. During production, all raw materials, intermediate products and end product are checked and the process is precisely monitored in accordance with the so-called preparation protocol. Should something later prove to be wrong with a certain batch of medicines, it can always be traced back to how it was made, who tested it, where and which raw materials were used, and so on.

This method of production, called Good Manufacturing Practice, is therefore the worldwide requirement for the production of medicines. GMPs are part of the WHO’s (World Health Organisation) Certification Scheme on the Quality of Pharmaceutical Products Moving in International Commerce.

 

HACCP 

HACCP, the abbreviation for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points, is a risk inventory for foodstuffs.

Companies involved in the preparation, processing, handling, packaging, transport and distribution of foodstuffs must therefore identify all aspects of the production process and analyse them for hazards. This management process, based on the European Union, must ensure that the production process of all foodstuffs is accompanied by as little risk of contamination as possible. As a result, the continuous monitoring and recording of cold stores and freezers, for example, has become an obligation.

HACCP is not a tangible manual of regulations, but a system based on seven principles. Companies must focus this system on their own situation. They indicate themselves where and in which phase of the production and/or distribution processes dangers to the health of consumers could arise. They also record what measures are taken to prevent threats to consumer health, what checks are carried out and what the results are.

In short: HACCP is a preventive system that must be implemented by companies themselves. By detecting the health risks in preparation and treatment processes and then making them manageable, the safety of the product is increased. Control takes place by the National Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority.

GAP

The GLOBALGAP (formerly EurepGAP) label is an initiative of a number of European supermarket chains. They have drawn up basic guidelines for Good Agricultural Production (GAP) of fresh vegetables and fresh fruit. These are known as the GLOBALGAP guidelines.

These European supermarkets impose the GLOBALGAP protocol as a basic standard with the aim of maintaining consumer confidence with regard to food safety. The standard ensures uniformity of regulations concerning the cultivation of products. After introduction, a grower will have a system in place to demonstrate that the product has been produced in a responsible manner. In addition to food safety, this international production standard for cultivation also pays attention to food safety:

  • Minimising environmental pollution;
  • Reducing the use of crop protection agents;
  • More efficient use of natural resources;
  • Dealing well with the health, welfare and safety of personnel;
  • Conservation and improvement of flora and fauna in the area.

This is partly achieved through the registration of used fertilisers and crop protection agents. The origin and production method of the products can be traced more quickly by these registrations.

Organic growing and sustainability

 

EU-BIO

This is the European Organic quality mark. It is issued by the inspection organisation Skal Biocontrole. An agricultural product or food ingredient may only be called organic if the production process complies with legal requirements. The European government determines the rules, the more than 4000 certified organic entrepreneurs comply with them and Skal checks this on behalf of the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality. This way the consumer can be sure that an organic product is truly organic.

Organic agriculture and food are legally defined terms and the word ‘organic’ is a legally protected term.

 

EKO

The EKO quality mark on food packaging in the Netherlands indicates that the product is organic and comes from a company that is committed to sustainability. This means that the product meets at least the European legal standards for ecological products and production methods. The term organic is protected by law.

No artificial aromas, colours or flavours may be added. The mixing of antibiotics and growth hormones is also not permitted in animal feed. The use of fertilisers and plant protection products is not completely prohibited: fertilisers are permitted if the application of the other rules is not sufficient to meet the nutritional needs of the plants”, plant protection products are permitted if the application of the rules “is not sufficient to adequately protect the plants against pests and diseases”.

Absence of organic certification

There are sustainable companies that make biological, therapeutic grade products and yet have no quality mark. Especially in the world of health products this is a common phenomenon. It is considered that the current standards for production and organic agriculture are not high enough.

In other words, an organic or eco-label can also have a somewhat misleading effect.

In the CBD sector, for example, Endoca applies this principle. They mention the following reasons why they have not applied for an EU bio-label:

  • We have created a new standard: 100% organic

At Endoca we grow our hemp on certified organic land, and even process it in a certified organic production facility. We call it 100% organic, because that’s exactly what it is. We do not use chemicals or mix our products with something that is not organic.

  • Organic certification is (sometimes) a deception.

If you buy products with an organic certificate, you can never be 100% sure that they are really 100% organic. Few people know this, but there is a law that says that an organic product you make may be mixed with non-organic ingredients. Different percentages apply in different industries.

In addition, there are also farmers who have an organic certificate and choose to buy non-organic products, put an organic label on them, and sell them on as organic products.

  • Governments have failed.

Governments around the world refuse to regard hemp oil as food. As a result, they are doing everything in their power not to have to issue certificates, even though the production process may meet all the conditions.

Just as governments fail to protect the human right to access medicinal cannabis, they have also failed to create a system to protect the food chain.

The only solution is to buy close to the source, from a grower you can trust.