The United States Department of Agriculture requires that food and perishable products are "labeled in a manner that is truthful and not misleading," and focuses on quality, not safety. As such, it can be understandably difficult at times to navigate reading between the lines of common verbiage like "Best if Used By," Best if Sold By," "Use By," and "Sell By." When it comes to determining whether perishable goods have exceeded their anticipated shelf life or not, there are several things to examine when making that personal judgement call, such as texture, smell, appearance and color. But what about all-natural products, such as CBD oil? Does it become less effective or even harmful to consume over time?
Just like everything we consume, CBD products do indeed have a shelf life. Similar to other products we store in our kitchen pantries and medicine cabinets, quality plays a big role in determining longevity, as does how it's made, packaged and stored. CBD oil products come in a variety of forms, such as pure oil, liquid concentrate, edibles or capsules, and often include other ingredients, such as carrier oils like MCT, olive or hemp seed. Because every CBD product is different, there isn't a universal shelf life that can serve as a rule of thumb. However, the general consensus seems to agree that the average shelf life of CBD oil falls between 12 and 24 months, depending on how well it is cared for. After that two-year marker, it is generally recommended that the product be discarded.
As the legal landscape continues to evolve, the regulatory framework surrounding CBD also is changing. Currently, the FDA monitors how companies are marketing and labeling CBD, keeping an eye out for violations such as claiming certain health benefits. More research is needed into the cannabinoid to make any definitive health claims, leading the FDA to take a cautious approach. Under current federal law, CBD cannot be added to food products or marketed as a dietary supplement. As the sale of CBD continues to grow, many are calling for the FDA to reconsider its approach surrounding the cannabinoid, as well as remain hopeful there will be a framework introduced that allows for CBD to be legally added into food products. This shift would also impact the expiration, as well as overall regulation of CBD products.
While the FDA continues to monitor CBD and how it is labeled, many companies—especially in states where THC is legal—are committed to being as transparent as possible about their extraction method, testing efforts and quality standards. As a general rule, quality products tend to last longer, with CBD being no exception to this. CBD oil extracted from cannabis plants grown in nutrient-rich soil using high-quality methods is going to have a longer shelf life than plants grown in unfit conditions. Companies committed to ensuring quality will include as much information about their product as possible, including a recommended expiration date, and will also have packaging that helps maintain the quality of the product.
To ensure you get the most out of your CBD products, it is advisable to research the company you're purchasing from to learn about sourcing, testing, and when a certain batch was manufactured. Additionally, be sure to pay attention to any changes in the product over time (such as a change in color, consistency, taste or odor, as this may indicate the product has gone rancid) and store the product in a cool, dark environment. Responsibly handling your CBD products will help ensure it maintains its potency and preserve the all-natural botanical properties so that you get the most out of your investment for months to come.