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When to Test your Hemp: Tips for Retailers

This article will explain when and why retailers should test their hemp/CBD products. The best times to test vary depending on your job function. Still, we recommend completing a full panel any time the product is sold throughout its lifecycle (from farmer to processor, processor to wholesaler, and wholesaler to retailer).

This is the final article in a three-part series regarding hemp testing timelines. Each series focuses on a different role in the process:

  1. Part 1: Producers
  2. Part 2: Processors
  3. Part 3: Retailers

As a reminder, Adams Independent Testing (AIT) cannot tell you what or how often to test; however, we can provide general testing recommendations. These articles serve as guides and are not a one-size-fits-all instruction manual. You must determine the interval and methodology that makes the most sense for you and your business.

When is the Best Time to Test Your Hemp as a Retailer?

We always recommend completing a full panel when purchasing a product; however, this isn't necessarily as cut and dry for retailers as for producers and processors. For example, it simply isn't feasible to send in for full panel testing every time you restock an item. Instead, we suggest you develop a random sampling procedure. We'll dive into some more detail regarding what this means below, but for now, here's a high-level breakdown of what else you should consider testing:

  • New products and brands

  • Supply from new wholesalers

  • New batches from routine wholesalers

Developing an internal quality assurance program helps protect your consumers from ingesting contaminants (e.g., pesticides, etc.) and serves as an insurance policy for yourself should anything go awry. Evaluation of anything new may seem like a no-brainer. Still, it's also essential to implement a testing regimen for your tried-and-true wholesalers—one way to do this is through random sampling. By randomly selecting products to sample, you avoid bias and get a more holistic representation of overall quality than you may from using other sampling methods. It holds you both accountable and prevents the wholesaler from predicting which items you're going to reevaluation.

Before we go into more detail on what else to test, verifying your purchase comes with a COA is always step one, regardless of where you obtain the material. Carefully examine the COA to ensure (at a minimum) the product is free of contaminants and the potency reflects what your seller indicated it would.

From there, we suggest spot-checking the following:

  • New products and brands: It's essential to evaluate any new products or brands you decide to stock, even if you're purchasing the supply from a wholesaler you know and trust. There have been numerous reports of contaminated products being sold on the market, contrary to what their COA reported. We've also heard of product labels falsely claiming to contain more CBD than what's realistically included. Discrepancies like this can happen for a few reasons, some of which include:

    • Fraudulent COAs

    • Improper storage techniques resulting in mold growth

    • Third parties not having quality control programs in place

  • Product from new wholesalers: Sampling material from new wholesalers helps ensure they're reputable and worth purchasing from again. Some bad players will falsely advertise higher CBD content to sell the product for more than its worth.

  • New batches from routine wholesalers: Ideally, the COA you receive should include a batch number near the top. A new batch could have been handled, harvested, processed, or packaged differently than the batch before it. It could also come from a different producer or processor, so it's best to verify that it's safe and priced reasonably.

Why is testing so important?

Testing at the retail stage is just as (if not more) necessary than it is for producers and processors. Ultimately, you're the last check and balance before use/consumption. Every person that touches/handles the material before it hits shelves is liable for consumer safety. However, it's your name associated with the product, and you could end up with the bad rap, regardless of who's to blame for unfavorable results or adverse reactions. The final sale comes with a lot of accountability.

It's also possible for merchandise to become tainted due to improper handling by the consumer. For example, maybe they're using a knock-off vape pen containing lead, or it could be that they aren't storing the product properly per the label instructions. These tests can secure your reputation and prove that the product was safe when it left your facility. Think of your COA as a safeguard against false accusations and a way to insure your sales.

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