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Scorecard Shows Majority of Hemp CBD Producers Receiving Failing or Close-to-Failing Grades

September 11, 2019
Center for Food Safety

Scorecard Shows Majority of Hemp CBD Producers Receiving Failing or Close-to-Failing Grades

Hemp CBD companies failing to test for pesticides and contaminants

Only 4 companies received an "A" grade

Baltimore, MD—A new "Hemp CBD Scorecard" from the national nonprofit watchdog Center for Food Safety (CFS) reveals that nearly half of the companies producing CBD tinctures, capsules, and lotions evaluated for the report received a failing—or near failing—grade. CFS's report and scorecard emphasizes that the minimal regulations for this rapidly growing market of CBD products provided by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) make it critical for independent organizations to review new hemp CBD product production and processing methods.

"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," stated Rebecca Spector, West Coast Director at Center for Food Safety and lead author of the report. "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 surveyed and evaluated 40 companies that sell hemp CBD products to compare product policies and practices in the following three categories: (1) Hemp Farming and Organic Certification; (2) Processing; and (3) Testing/Auditing. Among other factors, CFS evaluated: how many products are USDA Certified Organic or made with organic ingredients; which products use GMO ethanol/alcohol versus CO2 during processing; which companies test for the presence of pesticides, heavy metals such as lead, and microbiological contaminants; and which companies are clearly and openly conveying information about their production practices to consumers. The report offers numerous recommendations for producers and consumers of hemp CBD products. Fountain of Health, Green Gorilla, Palmetto Harmony, and RE Botanicals were the only companies to receive "A" grades.

"We're proud that RE Botanicals and Palmetto Harmony are two out of only four companies to receive an "A"—the highest possible grade—in the CFS scorecard," said John W. Roulac, Founder & Chief Hemp Officer of RE Botanicals. "Trust and transparency are vital in this wild west CBD world."

Only six of the 40 companies surveyed produce primarily CBD products that are USDA Certified Organic, and only two certify that their products don't contain traces of glyphosate, the main chemical in Monsanto's Roundup, which is classified as a probable carcinogen.

Excluding the companies that are not USDA Certified Organic, nearly half of the companies claim they are using organic ingredients, but almost none of those companies provide verification of these claims on their products' packaging or on their company websites. The good news is that 65% of the companies have taken an important first step toward providing transparency to consumers by posting their efficacy lab results online. With 72% percent of companies reporting that they support regenerative farming practices, there's great potential to improve the production practices within this burgeoning new industry if the companies start practicing what they preach.

"Now is the time for farmers and processors to seize the moment and take steps so that we can avoid hemp becoming yet another exploited commodity that is not grown sustainably," said Gwendolyn Wyard, Vice President of Regulatory & Technical Affairs at the Organic Trade Association. "We have a tremendous opportunity for organic hemp farmers and manufacturers to use organic hemp for a wide range of products, including cosmetics, personal care products, and nutritional supplements. There is no need for hemp to be grown with chemical pesticides and fertilizers. Organic agriculture and innovation has all the tools needed to produce a thriving hemp crop and associated processed hemp products that are better for the planet and what consumers want."

As the CBD industry continues to grow by developing products for both people and pets, producers should aim to make their products safe and healthy for those consuming them as well as the environment. Hemp CBD companies should source hemp that is USDA Certified Organic and non-GMO, test for pesticides and contaminants, utilize independent certifications, and provide clear and transparent information on the packaging of their products and company websites.

CFS also launched a corporate campaign targeted at companies that received low grades on the Hemp CBD 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.

CFS's Rebecca Spector, will be presenting the results of the scorecard at the Natural Products Expo at the Hilton Baltimore, Holiday Ballroom 6 at 2:40 pm.

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