Nearly half of the 40 cannabidiol (CBD) companies evaluated by food industry watchdog Center for Food Safety (CFS) received failing or near-failing grades for contaminant testing and labeling, a finding that the nonprofit believes highlights the lax oversight of the rapidly growing CBD market.
The nonprofit’s new report and “Hemp CBD Scorecard” surveyed many of the top hemp CBD producers on their production and processing methods, testing protocols, and transparency to consumers in the following three areas: hemp farming and organic certification; processing; and testing/auditing.
The nonprofit CFS said just six of the 40 companies produce “primarily” USDA-certified organic CBD products, and only two certify that they are glyphosate free, the world’s, most widely used pesticide which is linked to cancer. The six brands are: Ancient Nutrition, Green Gorilla, Haleigh’s Hope, Nature’s Love, Palmetto Harmony, and RE Botanicals.
CFS said that of the remaining 34 non-certified organic companies, 17 claim that they use “organic” ingredients, however nearly all of them do not provide verification of these claims on their products or websites.
“A number of companies state that their hemp is grown ‘naturally’ or grown using ‘state of the art’ farming techniques. These terms do not have any standards or regulations to back them up so are essentially meaningless,” the report said. “Some companies also claim their products are non-GMO however the products are not organic which does not allow for the use of GMOs in production – without certification to back it up, this is also a hollow claim.”
“Based on consumer concerns related to GMOs, we suggest that companies source non-GMO ethanol and avoid other GMO ingredients that may be coming soon such as GMO CBD produced using synthetic biology,” the report said. “It’s critical that companies use independent certifiers to verify that their products are USDA-certified organic and clear of contaminants.”
Of the 40 companies evaluated, only 4 scored an “A” while 10 scored a “F.” Nearly half of the companies received a “D” or an “F.” The companies that received an “A” score are: Fountain of Health, Green Gorilla, Palmetto Harmony, and RE Botanicals.
“We were surprised to find so many CBD companies failing to meet basic requirements to ensure their products are safe for people and the environment,” said CFS’ Rebecca Spector. “It’s crucial that these companies test for pesticides including glyphosate, heavy metals, and other contaminants. Companies should support their claims by posting test results from independent labs on their websites and seeking independent certifications to ensure quality of their products.”
CFS also launched a corporate campaign targeted at companies that received low grades on the scorecard, which allows consumers to email their favorite CBD companies and ask them to improve their practices. Some of the brands that received failing grades include Ancient Nutrition, Lord Jones, and ShiKai.