Industry watchdog gives 64% of CBD beverages an “F” on label claims

By Danielle Masterson contact

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Imaged Ivan-balvan
© Getty Imaged Ivan-balvan

Related tags: cbd beverages, leafreport

It’s back to school season and scores on a new CBD report card suggest certain manufacturers need to hit the books.

A new independent study by Leafreport revealed significant labeling discrepencies in cannabidiol (CBD) beverages. 

Leafreport, a peer-reviewed CBD educational platform, tested 22 CBD-infused beverages. The study, carried out by independent testing lab Canalysis Laboratories, found over half of the products analyzed contained less CBD than advertised.

According to the report​, +/- 10% is a reasonable amount of variance for cannabis products, meaning a high-quality CBD product should contain CBD levels within 90-110% of what is stated on the label.

Key findings

  • 54% of the products (12 products) contained less CBD than advertised
  • Two products contained no CBD at all
  • 81% of beverages (18 products) had CBD levels that were more than 10% higher or lower than what the label claimed
  • 64% of beverages (14 products) had CBD levels that were more than 40% higher or lower than what the label claimed
  • 18% of beverages (4 products) had CBD levels within 10% of the claimed amount, which is equivalent to an excellent (A) rating

The report noted that leading CBD brands were not more likely to score well on their tests than lesser-known companies, a stark contrast from their first report​ in June, which found reputable brands to have the best results.

“We think the CBD industry has come a long way, and as our June accuracy report showed it is maturing,” ​said Lital Shafir, head of product at Leafreport. “However, there are less supervised areas, one of which is the CBD beverage industry. I think the problem in this field is both less supervision and the fact that's it's harder to check those types of products. Tinctures are the main consumption method in the CBD industry, so you can see brands publish lots of results on tinctures lab tests and people are more aware of looking for them. The CBD infused drinks are less familiar and quite new. We think the conclusion is there is still a long way to go regarding supervision and regulation in the industry, and we also recommend users to always check the lab results of the CBD products they are interested in.”

Labeling discrepancies expected

Because the CBD beverage category is still young, the report noted that the results were in line with their expectations because CBD beverages are difficult to formulate and contain relatively small amounts of CBD, meaning that variations of even a few milligrams can have a big effect.

"The CBD industry is completely unregulated and there have been many cases of companies selling products that contain little to no CBD. That's why third-party testing is important for brands in this industry,"​ said Shafir.

On whether they will continue to test products once FDA has regulations in place, Shafir said it’s still up in the air: “We'll have to wait and see how the regulation would look like, but Leafreport's agenda is to always help users understand the market and find the right and high-quality products for them.”

Shafir shared that Leafreport has more reports planned in the near future, including a price report on over 80 brands.

Leafreport recently published a new rating system​. “We designed it to take into account more objective criteria such as extract type, hemp quality, price, testing processes/results, and more. We already rated almost 100 brands and more than a 1,000 products, and we hope our rating, together with the reports, will help improve the industry,”​ Shafir told NutraIngredients-USA. 

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