In early July, FDA presented a report to the U.S. House Committee on Appropriations and the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations detailing a recent study of the current cannabidiol (CBD) marketplace. The report showed that many products tested were mislabeled and contained different amounts of CBD than advertised.
“FDA recognizes the significant public interest in CBD products. However, there are many questions about the characteristics of currently marketed CBD products because the agency lacks significant information on what CBD-containing products are on the market and there are little data available on those products themselves,” the report stated.
In its research, FDA generated a list of 500 marketed CBD and hemp products and randomly chose 200 for testing. Testing for cannabinoids was performed in 147 of the 200 products and found that 49% contained some amount of the psychoactive ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Out of the 102 products that listed a specific amount of CBD, 18% of products contained significantly less than the amount indicated and 37% contained significantly more than indicated.
“The report emphasizes the need for final product testing of all CBD products so consumers know exactly what levels of CBD their products contain,” says Antonio Frazier, president of CannaSafe, a cannabis testing lab based in Van Nuys, Calif. “We are currently testing a wide variety of CBD products from all over the country and globe. Yet, since it’s not mandatory by law, the information around ‘safe’ products remains unclear and inconsistent for consumers.”
Of the 20 food and beverage products tested by FDA that contained an amount of CBD marketed on their labels, five had less than 80% of the amount of CBD indicated and six had more than 120% of the CBD displayed on its label.
Awais Spall, a cannabis researcher and director of business development for CBD wellness company Revibe, says that, while CBD has a lot of market hype, it is a relatively expensive ingredient. Thus, companies will sometimes use hemp seed oil and mis-market their product in the CBD space. “While working in production, I sent about a dozen competitor products to get potency tested and found that a majority of products were falsely labeled, having little or no CBD,” he tells FQ&S.
Jim Higdon, co-founder and chief communications officer at Cornbread Hemp, which offers organic CBD oils from Kentucky, said the report shows the industry is making progress—even if not perfect progress. “It would be ideal if all CBD brands formulated their products into an acceptable range relative to the labeling. The problem here is bad and sloppy CBD brands, combined with a lack of FDA regulations that give these bad actors room to operate,” he says “This FDA report cannot be used to smear the entire CBD industry. Most CBD brands are working in good faith to get things correct and establish trust with consumers.”