How to Read a CBD Product Label
Written by Jason Brett
Edited by Cathy Rozyczko on
November 24, 2021
CBD oil is increasingly popular these days; there is a large market of CBD oil products, along with a growing body of knowledge about its extensive natural benefits.
But CBD oil products aren't all the same, and labels can be confusing. In addition, legitimate CBD companies may be competing against manufacturers that disguise less-than-quality products with vague labeling.
To add to the confusion, federal and state laws about CBD may be in conflict with one another when it comes to certain CBD supplements. So when you are out there looking for the right CBD products, keep in mind these questions and answers on how to read a CBD product label.
Is CBD oil legal?
While CBD oil and other products derived from commercially grown hemp are legal, CBD oil has not been approved by the FDA for non-prescription CBD products. In addition, each state has its own laws regarding whether CBD oil and other hemp-based products are legal.
And the FDA has yet to approve CBD oil for use in any type of food or drink, so CBD-infused edibles and beverages at this time are not legal for anyone. Learn more about what the FDA has to say about CBD products here.
What's the difference between full spectrum CBD, broad spectrum CBD, and CBD isolate?
Full spectrum CBD
Full spectrum CBD oil has all the naturally occurring compounds called cannabinoids in the hemp plant , including THC. If the CBD comes from commercially grown hemp, the THC level should not exceed the federal legal limit of 03% THC.
Broad spectrum CBD
Broad spectrum CBD contains multiple cannabinoids, flavonoids, and/or terpenes found in full spectrum CBD, but with 0% THC.
This is just the CBD itself, in concentrated form. It contains no THC or any other cannabinoids.
What should you look for on a CBD label?
CBD manufacturing and licensing requirements will vary from state to state, and currently there are no federal requirements that regulate CBD labels. That being said, the labels of most legitimate CBD products will have labels that look like federal dietary ingredient labels. On the other hand, a CBD label that offers almost no information or which looks vastly different than what you are accustomed to seeing may not be a reliable product. Here are some other items to look for on your CBD product label:
1. A clearly marked source: CBD oil from hemp
The label should clearly indicate that the CBD oil in the product comes from hemp. While CBD oil derived from hemp is legal on the federal level as of 2018, CBD oil made from non-hemp cannabis is not legal in every US state. Only cannabis containing less than 0.3% THC in dry weight is considered hemp in the eyes of US federal law.
2. Package amount, serving sizes and measuring
The serving size of liquid CBD oil should be stated in milliliters and it should be clear whether the amount specified refers to a serving or to the container. For instance, the label should say that one serving equals one CBD gummy, or 150ml per serving. It should not merely state merely `50 ml’, which could also refer to the entire bottle or package itself.
3. Items for determining potency
You should have enough information to determine the concentration or strength of the CBD oil product easily. Most reliable companies list the total amount of CBD oil in the package at the bottom of the label. You can determine how strong the CBD oil is by dividing the amount of CBD listed by the size of the package. For instance, if you have a 15 ml bottle that contains 500 mg of CBD, you will come up with this equation: 500/15=33.3mg per ml. The potency thus reads as 33.3 mg per milliliter.
4. Serving size
The back or side of the CBD product package will list the serving size and how many servings are included in the package. Remember that CBD oils usually have serving sizes of 0.5 or 1mL, but this information may vary from product to product.
5. Third-party testing and certification
You'll find legally mandated testing for adult-use and medical cannabis. While some state systems may require a specific third-party testing, other states allow companies to use certified private, voluntary third-party certification programs, such as a Certificate of Analysis or COA that comes from a cannabis testing lab. There are still risks associated with third-party testing and certification, and it is not unheard of for unreliable companies to use old COAs on current inventory. So you need to verify the information from reliable online sources (like CBD Oil Review).
Other information to look for on CBD product labels
QR codes are those square barcodes that are scannable by phone. They are optional, but they are one of the best ways to assure product quality. Many manufacturers of quality CBD products provide you with a download of independent test results (aka a CBD Certificate of Analysis) once you scan the QR code — so that is usually a good sign that you are buying a quality CBD product.
Warning labels and disclaimers
Look for warnings that let you know about possible drug interactions or other disclaimers.
There should be basic information such as the website of the CBD manufacturer, or other information that lets you research the product. The website and all the contact information should be current and easy to find.
What are common additives, contaminants, and toxins to avoid?
In addition to CBD isolate or full spectrum/broad spectrum CBD oil in the product, you'll usually see other ingredients as well. CBD gummies usually have glycerin, flavors, and colors added. CBD tinctures may be mixed with glycerin, spirits, or another type of oil. Another red flag is the use of vague terms such as “natural ingredients,” a term which could be used to disguise the presence of vegetable oils, which have been linked with vaping illness.
The use of solvents is a common method to extract CBD oil from the hemp plant, but certain solvents commonly used like butane or propane are toxic. There are sometimes solvent remains in the final product. So if your CBD product label indicates that a solvent is used, check reviews to see if the company's process is clean and leaves virtually no leftover solvents in the final product. You can also reach out to the CBD company and ask for a current, independent residual solvents test on their bulk CBD oil used to make product.
Toxins can accidentally get into CBD products during the different stages that take place to produce the oil –manufacturing, storage, distribution — due to unclean or unhygienic practices. For example, molds, bacteria, aflatoxins, and heavy metals can get in during these stages which can harm our health. The best CBD brands will manufacture their products in cGMP and ISO facilities, so these are more certifications you can check for.
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