This is how we review CBD products
When it comes to buying a health product, the image that the manufacturer has created for their product is simply not enough. ‘Best quality’, ‘the highest standards’, ‘the purest product’, these claims are everywhere.
We believe that the quality of health supplements such as CBD-oil should be measurable and guaranteed.
We review the providers of CBD oil as any consumer would: by going through the information they provide on their websites. We call this “frontline quality control”. We want to enable consumers to make their own evaluations. Objectively and unbiased, based on the information that the companies themselves provide.
5 badges: these are the most important criteria
CBD oil companies are not equal. Because of differences in mission, methods and priorities, each offers a different product.
To be able to review the different brands, we have created 5 badges. Each badge contributes for 20% to the overall review. The highest score is 5 badges, or 100%.
Absolute priority: organic hemp
In order to obtain the Quality badge, we need to know whether organic (or possibly even more sustainable) farming practices are applied to the cultivation of the hemp used for the product. Organic certification is a reliable way of ensuring that a CBD product is truly free of toxic agricultural residues: pesticides, herbicides, heavy metals, micotoxins, GMOs and synthetic fertilisers/soil additives.
Why is this our number one priority? The hemp plant is naturally very susceptible to soil and air pollution. This plant actually cleans the soil by absorbing all harmful substances. The most common contaminants found in cannabis/hemp all have the potential to cause serious physical damage. They can also counteract the beneficial effects of CBD, so that the consumer or patient experiences less benefit from using the product.
- Up-to-date analysis certificates showing that the raw materials (hemp) are free of the types of contaminants listed above and/or up-to-date biological certification such as SKAL/EU-Bio or EKO.
Priority: Expertise in hemp cultivation and processing
We also look at the region where the plants come from; certain regions such as Scandinavia, the Netherlands, France, Austria and Spain usually have stricter quality control and more experienced growers. In Asia, cultivation is left to the free market. We are extra happy when we find out that a company does biodynamic cultivation or growers working with CBD rich hemp varieties.
Proof of origin or statement by the company on where the hemp has been cultivated.
First and foremost we’re concerned with the health and well-being of everyone who uses CBD. This passion for promoting health is why the criteria for the safety badge are perhaps the strictest of all.
Priority: Detailed and recent analysis reports
We expect a company to publish Certificates of Analysis (CoA) for each product/batch currently in circulation. Claiming that your brand is producing at a ‘GMP-certified facility’ or ‘high quality’ claims without proof will never be enough for us. Also, we often find that the published lab certificates correspond to a batch that was tested somewhere during the past year. That proves nothing when it comes to the safety of the most recent batch.
Another reason for such a strict policy: the most common contaminants found in cannabis/hemp all have the potential to cause serious physical damage. This unfortunate reality is the reason why we are doing our best to inform consumers. Knowledge is power and safety first!
- Detailed and recent Certificats of Analysis for the raw materials and for specific batches.
These should test negative for: heavy metals, residual solvents, pesticides, micotoxins and excessive THC (usually >0.05%).
Priority: correct, clear labelling
In 2017, a test with a large number of CBD brands showed that CBD oil sometimes contains much more and sometimes much less CBD than what’s stated on the packaging.
- Are the CBD content, content and type of product clearly stated on the packaging as required by the NVWA regulations? And does the quantity of CBD stated correspond to the quantity tested?
- Is a clean, modern extraction method used? (Super)critical CO2 extraction is the best, cleanest and mildest method to produce CBD oil that leaves no residue in the final product.
We also look at quality certificates. Is the production method standardised and the quality of the end product guaranteed by the GMP quality mark? Have sufficient measures been taken to limit the health risks during production, packaging and transport, and is this guaranteed by the HACCP quality mark?
Here we look at the company’s willingness to deliver a sustainable product that benefits both people and the environment. These efforts can best be demonstrated by means of certification.
There are many things that qualify for the Sustainability badge, including (but not limited to):
- Does the company carry a European sustainability label (such as EKO or Demeter)? This indicates a sustainable product in which the producer actively contributes to the welfare of people, animals and the preservation of the earth.
- Are the packaging, production facility and transport demonstrably environmentally friendly?
- Are other demonstrable efforts made in the field of sustainability, for example in the context of research, development, education or investments?
Although this badge is awarded to many of the companies we evaluate, it is still an important assessment factor. If we see a company offering only the simplest CBD products, without risking advanced techniques or other distinguishing factors, it is not eligible for the Innovation badge. Even if the company itself claims to be innovative.
Priority: Thinking about the future
There are many ways to be innovative. Thinking about the future, pioneering and making progress is crucial to this industry and that’s why we give this badge – hoping to encourage CBD producers to think outside the box and look ahead, even though the legal status of the product and varying legal requirements present significant challenges.
There are many things that qualify for the Innovation badge, including (but not limited to):
- Offering innovative forms of administration CBD, such as water-soluble or capulated CBD.
- The use of advanced extraction techniques (such as supercritical CO2).
- The use of advanced systems to monitor growing conditions.
- Product innovation: mixing terpenes and other plant active ingredients with CBD.
- Researching and working with new cannabinoids such as CBG.
Does ‘Doing good’ or Charity get its own badge? How important is this? This badge has everything to do with the fact that the CBD and cannabis industry occupies a unique position, while it’s still in it’s infancy. However, cannabis products have enormous potential as a preventative supplement and as a treatment for serious health complaints. The global market is one of the fastest growing markets today. As with all commercially operating giants, this involves a responsibility. As a company, you bear this responsibility by setting a good example and maintaining high standards, and and also by giving back to the world and humanity.
In the United States, cannabis and hemp producers not only earn a lot but also actively build on ideals. Many brands offer discounts for patients who are long-term ill or seriously ill children (under the name Compassionate Care) and/or donate part of their proceeds to charities, patient associations and medical research.
- We look at the mission that underlies the company’s activities. Does it actually go beyond profit or financial interest? What do they say they are trying to contribute to the world?
- Does the company give to charities, or does it invest or contribute to important agencies? Can these organisations or contributions be found on their website?
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