Product labeling accuracy and contamination analysis of commercially available cannabidiol product samples

Barry E. Gidal, Ryan Vandrey, Chela Wallin, Sean Callan, Alan Sutton, Timothy B. Saurer, Jennifer L. Triemstra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background and objective: Commercially available cannabidiol (CBD) products are increasingly being used for medicinal purposes, including for the treatment of various neurological conditions, but there are growing concerns around adherence to quality control measures that protect consumers. This study was conducted to assess the purity and label accuracy of commercially available CBD products. Methods: Commercially available CBD products were chosen from the open stream of commerce in the United States based on formulations as a tincture, gummy, vape, or topical product. Cannabinoid concentrations were analyzed to verify label accuracy including “full spectrum,” “broad spectrum,” and “CBD isolate” claims on the product label. Analysis for the presence of contaminants included evaluation for heavy metals, pesticides, and residual solvents. Labeled and actual total amounts of CBD and levels of impurities such as heavy metals, residual solvents, and pesticides were measured. Results: A total of 202 CBD products (100 tinctures, 48 gummies, 34 vape products, and 20 topicals) were chosen to represent a broad sample in the United States. Of the products tested (full spectrum, n = 84; broad spectrum, n = 28; CBD isolate, n = 37), 26% did not meet the definition for product type claimed on the packaging. The majority of products (74%) deviated from their label claim of CBD potency by at least 10%. Heavy metals were detected 52 times across 44 of the 202 products tested, with lead being the most prevalent heavy metal. Residual solvents were detected 446 times across 181 of 202 products, with the highest concentrations reported for hexane, m/p-xylene, methanol, and o-xylene. Of 232 pesticides tested, 26 were found 55 times across 30 products. A total of 3% of heavy metals, 1% of residual solvents, and 1% of pesticides violated >1 regulatory threshold. Discussion: This study demonstrated that the majority of commercially available CBD products tested within the current study are inaccurately labeled. Heavy metals, residual solvents, and pesticides were found in several products, some of which violated regulatory thresholds. Thus, uniform compliance with CBD quality control measures is lacking and raises consumer protection concerns. Improved regulatory oversight of this industry is recommended.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1335441
JournalFrontiers in Pharmacology
StatePublished - 2024


  • cannabidiol
  • contaminants
  • mislabeling
  • product label accuracy
  • quality control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Pharmacology


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