Kingdom Harvest sublingual oil products are tested for cannabinoid potency, pesticides, microbials, mycotoxins, heavy metals, residual solvents, foreign material and water activity. We make batches of final product in which we track where the plant material came from and all the ingredients. Then we take representative samples of each batch and send off for full panel testing. We test every single batch of oil, without fail, and at considerable expense to ensure the utmost quality and safety (copies of certificates are available upon request or view online).
The cannabis industry and state government regulators have collectively determined that a certain set of tests should be run on all cannabis depending on their intended use. Testing for all the appropriate factors within these products is called ‘full panel testing’ and is generally required in medical and adult-use states. No regulation exists necessitating testing of any kind of hemp extract products, but the market has driven most producers to test their products to at least some degree. The best practice is to test the final product for a full panel of tests; while the full panel will vary somewhat between product types, it is generally quite similar. At Kingdom Harvest, we’ve taken a proactive position regarding testing, taking into consideration the anticipated FDA involvement in the future. We set up processes and testing in anticipation of FDA review and approval once available.
What are we testing for?
Growing of cannabis can be aided using certain pesticides and fungicides to protect the crop. Some continue to use pesticides in their growing practices for these reasons, but most good growers, such as Kingdom of the Happy Land Farms where we source all of the hemp for Kingdom Harvest product, choose to grow without their use. Many are concerned about the use and consumption of pesticides, especially through inhalation methods so it has become a standard practice to test to ensure safety.
Cannabis is known to be an accumulator of heavy metals; this can be seen as a strong positive in terms of using hemp to remediate soils but represents a potential threat to heavy metals as a contamination in hemp products. The 4 heavy metals of the most interest are all toxic in nature: mercury, lead, cadmium and arsenic. Heavy metals tests in cannabis test for the content of those 4 metals down to trace amounts. Heavy metals are in the foods we eat and the water we drink – we consume them daily. The key is that heavy metals consumption can be tolerated as is generally recognized as safe if kept below a certain amount per time. Cannabis products, if they are high in heavy metals, can then introduce more into someone’s system which can be toxic if levels are high enough.
Microbial life needs water to survive, and the availability of water to support microbial life can be measured by a property called water activity. This is a different test than water content which gives a weight percent of water within something. This is a test to indicate specifically how much water is available to support microbial life. The test results in a value from 0 to 1, with 1 being water itself and 0 being absolutely no available water. This test is important but if products are above a certain water activity, they must be refrigerated or otherwise preserved because microbes can start to grow. Below this water activity level, microbes can’t grow because they don’t have enough water. Kingdom Harvest sublingual oils have inherently low water activity, being oil-based. We test our products for their water activity as a critical control point in our process to ensure that nothing has taken place that would allow the growth of microbes in our bottles as they sit on the shelf.
Hemp extracts are generally made through solvent extraction in which a volatile solvent of some kind is used to extract the cannabinoids and other compounds from the plant material. Those solvents are then removed to yield concentrates to blend into final products. There often remains traces of the solvent that remain and can be measured in the final product. Further, trace contaminants and other non-beneficial and/or harmful compounds could have found their way into a process if proper care wasn’t taken. So, final products are tested for residual solvent content. Kingdom Harvest products are produced with high-proof, food-grade ethanol extraction. As a result, some ethanol remains in the final products. We developed our process to only leave trace amounts of ethanol present, which readily comply with any regulatory guidelines. We test for residual solvents to ensure that the ethanol is left at an appropriate level. The amount of ethanol remaining is quite small – as a reference, there is less ethanol in an entire bottle of Kingdom Harvest sublingual oil than there is in a single drop of red wine.
Microbes encompass a wide array of small life covering bacteria, yeast and fungus. These microbes can grow readily on cannabis plant material or in products if they are not handled correctly, so testing is performed to ensure that nothing unsafe is living in products intended for consumption.
Certain species of fungus, if present on cannabis, can produce toxic compounds or mycotoxins (toxins from fungus). These compounds, like many toxins around us, are present in what we consume every day in very small amounts. Testing is performed on these products to ensure that nothing went wrong in the field or the lab that would allow dangerous amounts of these toxins to be present in the products.
Filth and Foreign Materials
This is a simple observational test performed to assure that there isn’t any obvious contamination or any sort in the product.