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New Scorecard Shows Hemp CBD Producers are Increasing Transparency and Moving Toward Organic Ingredients and Certification

89% of the Hemp CBD Companies Evaluated Publicly Post Test Results for Pesticides and Contaminants, 72% claim to use organic ingredients

March 02, 2020
Center for Food Safety


March 2, 2020 (San Francisco, CA) An updated "Hemp CBD Scorecard" from the national nonprofit watchdog Center for Food Safety (CFS) reveals that nearly all the companies evaluated are becoming more transparent about how their products are produced. This is a huge improvement over CFS's original "Hemp CBD Scorecard" published in September 2019 in which the majority of the CBD companies evaluated received a failing, or near failing, grade.

Despite the new and rapidly-growing market for CBD products, such as tinctures, capsules, and lotions, for both people and pets; the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has only provided minimal regulations for these novel products. FDA's inaction makes it even more critical for independent organizations like CFS to review the production and processing methods of hemp CBD products.

"We are thrilled to see so much improvement in the hemp CBD industry since our last Scorecard.

Companies are now providing critical information to the public — including test results for pesticides, heavy metals, and other contaminants — as well as other information about how their products are made," said Rebecca Spector, West Coast Director at Center for Food Safety. "Our hope is that all CBD brands will follow in the footsteps of these companies that are leading the way toward providing full transparency about their products."

CFS re-evaluated dozens of companies that sell hemp CBD products to compare product policies and practices in the following four categories: (1) Hemp Farming and Organic Certification; (2) Processing; (3) Testing/Auditing; and (4) Transparency. CFS based the scores on factors like: how many products are 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 new Scorecard shows the majority of companies (22) are receiving an "A" grade with only a single company in the "D" or "F" category. This is in stark contrast to the September 2019 Scorecard where only four companies received "A" grades, and the majority of companies received "Ds" and "Fs." 

Some additional results of interest include:

— 89% of companies provide lab results directly on their website, with 94% testing for heavy metals and microbiological contaminants
— 72% of companies claim they are using organic ingredients on their product labels;
— 59% of companies provide general pesticide panel test results on their websites
— 29% of companies provide glyphosate tests and/or glyphosate free certificates on their websites (note that a separate test is required for glyphosate, it is not included in standard pesticide tests)

These are all important steps toward providing transparency to consumers.

The Scorecard also found that 72% of companies reviewed state they are using organic ingredients on their product labels, with 24% of companies increasing their use of organic ingredients since the September 2019 Scorecard.

"Now is the time for farmers and processors to seize the moment and avoid hemp becoming another exploited commodity that is not grown sustainably," said Gwendolyn Wyard, Vice President of Regulatory & Technical Affairs at the Organic Trade Association. "We have in front of us a tremendous opportunity for organic hemp farmers and manufacturers to use organic hemp for a wide range of products, including cosmetics, personal care products, textiles 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 hemp CBD industry continues to grow, producers should aim to make their products safe and healthy for consumers and the environment. This includes sourcing Certified Organic and non-GMO ingredients, testing for pesticides and contaminants, utilizing independent certifications, and providing clear and transparent information on their products and websites.

"There is a lot of confusion surrounding CBD, and CFS's "Hemp CBD Scorecard" is a great resource as it magnifies and benchmarks manufacturers' growing and production processes and demands transparency which, ultimately, will improve consumer knowledge and confidence," stated Bobby McConnell, VP of Sales and Marketing at Sunsoil CBD. "Our company is on a mission to create affordable access to the best CBD oil products and we are thrilled to see our organic farming and quality practices recognized with an overall "A" designation in the updated scorecard," he continued.

In September 2019, CFS launched a corporate campaign targeted at companies that received low grades in the first version of the "Hemp CBD Scorecard." As a result of that campaign, thousands of emails were submitted to CBD companies asking them to improve their practices in accordance with the Scorecard.

Download the scorecard >>

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