5+ FDA & USDA Approved Methods for CBD Testing Laboratories in Florida

There’s no denying that CBD testing is an important cornerstone in the cannabis industry. The difference between a trusted, high-quality product and a subpar one often comes down to rigorous testing. 

Beyond just regulatory compliance, testing speaks to a brand’s commitment to quality, safety, and transparency. Purity and potency aren’t just marketing lingo; they are a testament to knowing precisely what’s in the product. 

But how do labs go about ensuring these promises are kept? What methods are used and, most importantly, which methods are approved to be used in a CBD testing lab in Florida and why? Read on to learn more about CBD testing methods in Florida.

1. Liquid and Gas Chromatography for Canabidiod Testing

The cannabinoid profile is often the most scrutinized section in a Certificate of Analysis (COA). After all, you need to know what concentration of cannabinoids, especially CBD, is present in the product. To accurately determine the potency and ensure consistency, two primary methods are employed:

High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC):

HPLC is a method that separates and measures each cannabinoid in a sample. This approach does not involve heat, ensuring that the sample remains unaltered during testing. Due to its accuracy and efficiency, it’s widely used in many labs.

Gas Chromatography (GC):

GC identifies and measures cannabinoids, but the process involves heat. This means compounds like CBDA can convert into CBD during the procedure. While it provides detailed insights into the cannabinoid profile, the results must be interpreted with the heat-induced changes in mind.

2. Atomic Spectrometry for Heavy Metal Contamination

When it comes to CBD products, what isn’t in them is just as important as what is. Heavy metals, if present, can pose significant health risks to consumers. To safeguard against these potential hazards, labs turn to advanced testing methods to detect any trace amounts of these unwanted contaminants.

Atomic Absorption (AA):

This method detects metals by measuring the absorption of light by vaporized elements in the sample. It’s a proven technique that allows labs to identify specific metals even in low concentrations.

Inductively Coupled Plasma Optical Emission Spectroscopy (ICP-OES):

ICP-OES uses plasma to excite atoms in the CBD sample, causing them to emit light at specific wavelengths. By measuring this emitted light, labs can determine the concentration of various metals.

Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS):

Regarded as one of the most sensitive techniques, ICP-MS analyzes ionized samples to detect and quantify metals. It can measure multiple elements simultaneously and is effective even at extremely low concentrations.

3. TCM and aPCR for Microbial Analysis

Microbial contamination can lead to product degradation and pose health risks. As such, two predominant methods have become the gold standard for microbial testing in the cannabis industry.

Traditional Culture Methods (TCM):

While sometimes considered “old school”, TCM remains a reliable way to detect microbial contamination. In this method, samples are placed on a culture medium designed to promote the growth of specific microbes. Over a period, typically up to seven days, the growth is monitored, and any colonies are identified and quantified.

Quantitative Polymerase-Chain-Reaction (qPCR) Analysis:

qPCR is a more modern approach that targets DNA or RNA sequences specific to the microbes of interest. This method amplifies these sequences to detectable levels, allowing for the identification and quantification of microorganisms. Not only is qPCR precise, but it’s also faster, often delivering results within two days, including the incubation period.

4. Qualitative and Quantitative Strips for Mycotoxin Screening

Mycotoxins are toxic compounds produced by certain molds that can compromise the safety and quality of CBD products. Their presence not only poses health risks but also indicates potential mold growth, which can degrade the product. To ensure that these stealthy culprits are identified and dealt with, two primary methods are employed:

Qualitative Testing Strips:

These are straightforward, rapid tools that indicate the presence of specific mycotoxins. When a testing strip comes into contact with a target mycotoxin, a color change ensues, signaling its presence. While they provide a quick yes-no answer, they don’t offer detailed information about the concentration of the mycotoxin.

Quantitative Strips:

These strips operate similarly to their qualitative counterparts but go a step further. Upon detecting a specific mycotoxin, they provide a digital read-out, offering precise details on the concentration detected. This offers a more comprehensive insight into the extent of contamination, if present.

5. LC/MS/MS and GC/MS/MS for Pesticide Screening

Pesticides, while sometimes necessary in cultivation, have no place in the end product that consumers use. The potential health risks posed by residual pesticides underscore the need for rigorous testing. However, detecting these compounds, which are often present in trace amounts, requires sophisticated methods that both capture and analyze their presence accurately.

The first step involves extracting any potential pesticides from the sample. The goal is to ensure that if pesticides are present, they’re effectively drawn out and made ready for further analysis. Depending on the material and the suspected pesticides, different solvents or techniques may be used.

Post-extraction, the sample might contain other compounds, pigments, or materials that could interfere with the accurate detection of pesticides. The cleanup process refines the sample, removing these potential interferences and ensuring that the final analysis is as precise as possible.

Liquid Chromatography with Tandem Mass Spectrometry (LC/MS/MS):

Once the sample is prepared, Liquid Chromatography with Tandem Mass Spectrometry- LC/MS/MS- becomes the method of choice for many labs. It allows for the separation, identification, and quantification of trace amounts of multiple pesticides in a single run. Its accuracy and sensitivity make it an invaluable tool in ensuring that CBD products are free from harmful pesticide residues.

Gas Chromatography with Tandem Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS/MS):

Similarly to LC/MS/MS, this method is adept at detecting and quantifying trace pesticide residues. GC/MS/MS can often detect different pesticides or offer complementary data, ensuring that the screening is as comprehensive as possible.


In the fast-paced CBD industry, ensuring the purity, safety, and authenticity of products is of utmost importance. The rigorous testing methods we’ve discussed highlight the industry’s dedication to delivering only the best to consumers. As consumers become more informed and discerning, this commitment isn’t just about meeting regulatory standards; it’s about establishing trust and a strong reputation. For anyone involved in the CBD world, from consumers to producers, understanding these testing methods offers a clearer perspective on the quality of CBD products, especially in Florida.

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