Things We Won’t Carry and Why

Here's the list of the Things We Won’t Carry. The Why explanations included in some of them are the most problematic ingredients and the most prevalently found ingredients in the current food system.

Food Ingredients We Won’t Sell

(brand names Sunett® and Sweet One®)

(may also be called mon- and diglycerides, or ethoxylated mono- and diglycerides)

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Aluminum sulfate, Aluminum ammonium sulfate, Aluminum potassium sulfate, Aluminum sodium sulfate, Sodium aluminum phosphate, Aluminum calcium silicate, Sodium aluminosilicate, Alum 

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The following are the Certified colors allowed in food and the names they are allowed to be listed as Blue 1, Blue 2, Green 3, Orange B, Citrus Red 2, Red 3, Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6. At Natural Grocers, we also consider the following to be artificial colors: Carmel color classes II, III, & IV.

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(Caprenin, Caprocaprylobehenin)

There are approximately 3,000 GRAS artificial flavor ingredients. The FDA does not require flavor companies to disclose ingredients as long as the ingredients are deemed GRAS (generally recognized as safe). However, it does require that they are listed as an artificial flavor.

(Anoxomer, Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), Calcium disodium EDTA, Calcium propionate, Calcium sorbate, Disodium calcium EDTA, Disodium dihydrogen EDTA, EDTA (ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid)

Acesulfame-K, acesulfame potassium, or Ace-K, (brand names Sunett® and Sweet One®); Advantame; Aspartame (brand names NutraSweet®, Equal®, Sugar Twin®); Neotame (brand name Newtame®); Sucralose (brand name Splenda®); Saccharin, calcium saccharin (brand names Sweet and Low®, Sweet Twin®, Sweet'N Low®, and Necta Sweet®)

(brand names NutraSweet®, Equal®, Sugar Twin®)

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(butylated hydroxyanisole)
(butylated hydroxytoluene)
(azodicarbonamide, benzoyl peroxide, calcium peroxide)

(calcium bromate, potassium bromide)

(calcium bromate, potassium bromide, sodium bromate)

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(bovine somatotropin) in fresh dairy products—excluding dips

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Added to products to either boost their caffeine content or to have a stimulant effect. Ingredients that contain naturally occurring caffeine are approved.

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(Acetylated esters of mono- and diglycerides, ethoxylated mono- and diglycerides, mono- and diglycerides, DATEM (Diacetyl tartaric and fatty acid esters of mono- and diglycerides) hydrogenated oils, partially hydrogenated oils)

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Substitute from coconut oil, palm kernel oil, or both oils, and primarily from high-oleic safflower or sunflower oil.

Substitute primarily from palm oil.

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(also called 2,3-butanedione) 2,3-pentanedione, Acetoin (also called acetyl methyl carbinol), 2,3-hexanedione and 2,3-heptanedione are all structurally related to diacetyl and have been suggested as possible substitutes for diacetyl.

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Energy drinks that contain added caffeine and/or other stimulants such as theobromine, guarana, etc.

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Salmon or any other GM Animal/Seafood Product

Added as a stimulant to food and beverages.
(Olestra)
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Commonly listed on food labels as: hydrogenated oils, partially hydrogenated oils, vegetable oil shortening, shortening

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(aka dimethylpolysiloxane, polysilicone)
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(aka mono- and diglycerides)

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Brand name: TREHA®
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Brand name: Newtame
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(methyl, propyl, butyl, etc.)
(source of trans fats)
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(aka Natamycin)
(brand names such as STA-LITE®, Litesse®)
(aka Dimethylpolysiloxane, PDMS, DMPS, silicone oil, dimethyl polysiloxane (E900), dimethicone, dimethyl silicone fluid, dimethyl silicone oil, also found in “Phase Oil” if that is on the ingredient list)
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(see also potassium metabisulfite & sulfites) potassium bisulfate, sodium bisulfite, sulfur dioxide, potassium metabisulfite
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(calcium or sodium)
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Pasteurized Almonds—All Natural Grocers Brand bulk almonds, including trail mixes and the nuts used to make almond butter, are PPO free. All our bulk almonds are either steam pasteurized, roasted, blanched or raw.
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Sweetener containing steviol glycoside Reb A.
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GMO produced stevia glycosides (aka EverSweet™, it will be labeled as steviol glycosides in the US— made by Cargill)
(aka Truvia®)
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(aka Sweet ‘n Low®)
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(aka SSL)
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(as standalone ingredient)
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GMO produced (aka Reb D and M or EverSweet™)
(aka Splenda®)
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(aka Olestra)
(sulfur dioxide, potassium- & sodium bisulfite, potassium & sodium metabisulfite, sodium sulfite)
(aka saccharin)
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(tertiary butylhydroquinone)
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As an added ingredient. Naturally occurring is fine.
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(aka trehalose or mycose)
(aka mycose or tremalose) Brand name: TREHA®
(aka trehalose or mycose) Brand name: TREHA®
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(aka Rebiana)
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Made from GMO microorganisms

Supplement Ingredients We Won’t Sell

There have been sporadic reports of people developing liver or kidney problems after taking chaparral, particularly in capsules. This herb should only be taken internally when under a physician’s supervision.

These plants contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids, substances that are established to be hepatotoxins (toxins to the liver) in animals. The pyrrolizidine alkaloids that are present in comfrey have also been shown to be toxic to other tissues as well. There is also evidence that implicates these substances as carcinogens.

We do not carry any form of DHEA. This hormone produced by the adrenal glands has many regulatory functions in the body. These actions are best accomplished when DHEA is naturally produced. There are numerous potential side effects with using supplemental DHEA. For example, it can promote tumor growth, encourage liver toxicity, and disrupt hormonal balance, which can produce a wide range of symptoms including mustaches on women. Self-diagnosis of low DHEA levels and self-prescribed supplementation is inappropriate and can be harmful. A doctor trained in the uses of DHEA should regulate the intake of this supplement. Refer to What your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause by Dr. John Lee.

EDTA (ethylenediamine tetra-acetic acid) is a synthetic amino acid used in chelation therapy. This therapy is done by administering repeated doses of EDTA to gradually reduce atherosclerotic plaque and other mineral deposits throughout the cardiovascular system. We feel the use of either should be medically supervised by a trained physician. Lab tests should be done to assess toxic levels and if the EDTA treatments are working. Taking the therapy when not needed may cause bodily damage. Furthermore, EDTA is a mineral chelator and it may remove essential minerals needed for proper nutrition.

Supplementation with germanium, a naturally occurring element, has resulted in kidney, liver and neurologic toxicities.

There are three glycols occasionally added to supplements: Polyethylene glycol (PEG), propylene glycol, and propylene glycol alginate. PEG is a product of petroleum gas or dehydration of an alcohol. Studies have shown that implants of large amounts of PEG in rats caused cancer. Ingestion of large oral doses has produced kidney and liver damage. Propylene glycol in large oral doses in animals has been reported to cause central nervous system depression and slight kidney changes. Propylene glycol alginate is similar to propylene glycol but derived from seaweed.

Graviola (Annona muricata) is a plant that is being promoted as having an anticancer effect but at this time there is no research or clinical trials available proving the safety or efficacy of this plant. Graviola contains a plant compound called acetogenin. Acetogenin, although found in small amounts in graviola, is toxic to rapidly divide cells and should be monitored for this effect as chemotherapy is monitored. Additionally, there is some evidence that consumption of the fruit and infusions of graviola is linked to an increased incidence of Parkinson’s. Providing a toxic plant for consumption as a cancer treatment is not the goal of Natural Grocers, instead, we provide products to improve overall function and promote optimal health so the body can heal itself.

This is a pituitary hormone involved in growth and repair of organs and tissues. It is being touted as an anti-aging therapy. However, there have been no studies on oral hGH products. Side effects of supplementing this hormone can include joint pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, bloating, edema, breast tenderness in men, diabetes, and possibly lead to prostate problems. However, we do carry homeopathic versions by Liddell and Renewal that are safe.

Oxygen, oxidation, and free radicals are essential to health. However, uncontrolled free radicals will lead to physical damage and disease. A common example of damaging oxidation occurs when oxygen combines with the element iron to create iron oxide, better known as rust. If iron supplementation is needed, non-oxidized forms of iron (e.g. fumarate, gluconate, glycinate) are recommended.

We have limited the number of weight loss and energy enhancing products on our shelves that contain ingredients that may be harmful to some individuals, such as kola nut, citrus aurantium extract, pseudoephedrine and guarana (due to high amounts of caffeine).

High dose iodine supplementation is often used to help with an overactive thyroid and may help protect the thyroid gland from the effects of exposure to radioactive iodine. High amounts of iodine may produce adverse reactions such as rashes, itching or lesions on the skin, gastrointestinal symptoms, or hypothyroidism, especially in people with a prior history of thyroid problems.  Because of such potential problems, the use of high dose iodine therapy should be supervised by a doctor.

This hormone is a precursor to DHEA and other hormones. As mentioned above, there are numerous risks involved when supplementing with DHEA. Minimal research exists on pregnenolone’s use in humans. Therefore, we do not feel it is safe to be self-prescribed. The chance of causing hormonal imbalance is high and could result in negative consequences.

This anti-caking agent is used in some dry powdery foods, personal powder products (bath, baby, face, etc), creams, and supplements. Prolonged inhalation of talc (magnesium silicate) can cause lung problems because it is similar in chemical composition to asbestos, a known lung irritant and cancer-causing agent. Talc is not considered food grade by the FDA.

Although some men may benefit from testosterone, the use of any steroid hormone should be supervised by a trained physician. Even bio-identical hormones can be dangerous in excess. Testosterone does not cause prostate cancer, but it does increase the growth rate of cancer that is already there. It is important to not take more than the amount recommended by a physician.

We have encouraged our manufacturers to change their formulations.  However, given some of the formulations, it may not be possible to change the preservative due to molecular interactions. Additionally, it is important to understand that all preservatives can be problematic and have health-associated risks. These risks and problems are necessary, as not preserving a product would result in even bigger problems such as life-threatening bacteria and/or molds.

Body Care Ingredients We Won’t Sell

Such soaps contain antibacterial agents (such as triclosan) that work like an antibiotic. Researchers are concerned that through the process of natural selection, bacteria that survive exposure to antibacterial agents pass along their resistant genes, making the next generation even tougher to combat. This process is exactly what has happened with medical antibiotics due to unnecessary prescriptions.

This insecticide can be found in most over-the-counter insect repellents. However, there are some concerns about the toxicity of DEET. For instance, a Duke University Medical Center pharmacologist named Mohamed Abou-Donia, Ph.D. has conducted a number of animal studies that found the chemical causes diffuse brain cell death and behavioral changes in rats after frequent and prolonged use. While the chemical’s risks to humans are still being intensely debated, Abou-Donia says his 30 years of research on pesticides’ brain effects clearly indicate the need for caution among the general public. Children, in particular, are at risk for subtle brain changes caused by chemicals in the environment, because their skin more readily absorbs them, and chemicals more potently affect their developing nervous systems. With heavy exposure to DEET and other insecticides, humans may experience memory loss, headache, weakness, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, tremors and shortness of breath. There are many other insect repellant products that are DEET-free on our shelves that we are comfortable offering to the community.

Acetone is a denaturant, fragrance ingredient, and solvent used in nail polish remover.  It is classified as an irritant and there is moderate evidence of associated human neurotoxicity.

(Aluminium chlorideAluminium Chlorohydrate, Aluminum-zirconiumAluminium Zirconium Tetrachlorohydrex Gly) –  Many different forms of aluminum are used as antiperspirant agents, cosmetic astringents, and deodorant agents.  These aluminum compounds prevent sweating by clogging the pores and preventing sweat from reaching the skin’s surface.  There is evidence that the forms of aluminum utilized most commonly in commercial antiperspirant products are human toxins/allergens with possible links to breast cancer.

Potassium alum is a naturally occurring mineral salt that is most commonly used in crystal deodorants.  While deodorants work by masking odor, and antiperspirants work by clogging the pores, potassium alum’s creates an unfriendly environment for the bacteria that causes body odor.  Potassium alum is not an antiperspirant, nor does it inhibit the activity of sweat glands in clinical testing.  The main difference between potassium alum and aluminum chlorohydrate is that potassium alum is a much larger molecule, not thought to be absorbable through human skin.  Potassium alum has a long history of safe usage in a variety of products.

Artificial in terms of food means “a substance not duplicated in nature.” There are currently seven artificial (synthetic) coal-tar based dyes on the market. There is evidence that four of the seven being used cause cancer in laboratory animals. The FDA has banned 17 food dyes since 1918 because of their potentially toxic effects. Furthermore, six of the seven being used in the US have been banned in other countries. Natural Grocers does not allow artificial colors in body care products or color cosmetics.  All color cosmetics at Natural Grocers are mineral or plant derived.

It is estimated that 95% of the synthetic fragrances on the market are derived from petroleum by-products. The Environmental Working Group states, “Fragrance, is usually a chemical cocktail, often containing individual chemicals associated with allergic reactions and hormone disruption. Some fragrance chemicals have not been assessed for safety. Until all fragrance ingredients are disclosed on the label, consumers cannot know what is in a particular fragrance.” Artificial fragrances commonly cause skin, eye, and lung irritation, and possible organ system toxicity.  They also contain phthalates which are esters of phthalic acid and are mainly used as plasticizers.  The phthalates found in the majority of artificial fragrances are known endocrine disruptors.

BHA is a preservative, stabilizer, fragrance ingredient, and masking ingredient.  It is suspected to be an endocrine disruptor and is reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen based on evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals.

(Butylated hydroxytoluene, butylhydroxytoluene) – BHT is a toluene-based ingredient used as a preservative, fragrance ingredient, and masking ingredient.  Human case studies show significant allergenic effects.

Bismuth oxychloride

Bismuth oxychloride is a naturally occurring mineral used as a filler ingredient in cosmetics to achieve a shiny effect.  It is typically a byproduct of lead/copper refining and may cause extreme irritation, redness, burning, itching, and worsening of some skin conditions (particularly when perspiring or in hot weather).

Coal tar is a thick liquid or semi-solid obtained as a byproduct in the destructive distillation of coal.  It is commonly used as an anti-dandruff agent, cosmetic biocide, denaturant, and is a known human carcinogen.

DBP is a fragrance ingredient, plasticizer, and solvent.  It is classified as a reproductive and developmental toxin, endocrine disruptor, and a known human respiratory toxin.

(DMDM Hydantoin, Quaternium 15, Diazolidinyl Urea, Imidazolidinyl Urea, Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate, Tetrasodium EDTA, Benzyl Alcohol, 2-Bromo-2-Nitropane-1, 3-Diol) – Formaldehyde donors/releasers come in many forms and under many different names.  They function as antimicrobial preservatives in creams, gels, and liquids.  There is strong evidence that formaldehyde donors/releasers are human skin toxins and allergens.

Hydrogenation is a process that takes an unsaturated fat, such as soybean or other vegetable oil, and makes it more solid at room temperature, thus more saturated. A large percentage of the once healthy fats are converted to the trans-configuration, also known as trans-fatty acids. This process changes the molecular shape of these fatty acids, which negatively alters their biological functions.  Applying these damaged oils to the skin is not recommended.

Hydroquinone is an aromatic organic compound used as a fragrance ingredient, hair colorant, reducing agent, & skin bleaching agent.  There is strong evidence that this ingredient is a human skin toxin and allergen.

Isopropyl alcohol is a common solvent used as an anti-foaming agent, fragrance ingredient, and a viscosity decreasing/controlling agent.  It can cause skin, eye, and/or lung irritation, possible organ system toxicity.

Mineral oil, petroleum, and petrolatum are liquid or semi-solid mixtures of hydrocarbons obtained from petroleum.  They are commonly used as a fragrance ingredient, skin protectant, hair/skin conditioning ingredient, and solvent.  These ingredients interfere with the body’s natural moisturizing mechanism.  They are also directly obtained from the petroleum industry which has a negative environmental impact.

(Methyl, Propyl, Butyl & Ethyl Parabens) – Parabens are esters of para-hydroxybenzoic acid and are commonly used as preservatives.  Parabens mimic estrogen and are therefore possible endocrine and reproductive disruptors.

(phthalate Esters, phthalic Acid(s) see artificial fragrances) – Phthalates are esters of phthalic acid and are mainly used as plasticizers.  The phthalates found in the majority of artificial fragrances are known endocrine disruptors.

This anti-caking agent is used in some dry powdery foods, personal powder products (bath, baby, face, etc), creams, and supplements. Prolonged inhalation of talc (magnesium silicate) can cause lung problems because it is similar in chemical composition to asbestos, a known lung irritant and cancer-causing agent.  Talc is not considered food grade by the FDA.

Although some men may benefit from testosterone, the use of any steroid hormone should be supervised by a trained physician. Even bio-identical hormones can be dangerous in excess. Testosterone does not cause prostate cancer, but it does increase the growth rate of cancer that is already there. So it is important to not take more than directed by a physician after adequate assessments.

Toluene is a volatile petrochemical solvent that is a potent neurotoxicant that acts as an irritant, impairs breathing, and causes nausea.

References available upon request