Things We Won’t Carry and Why

Quality matters when it comes to your health, the health of your family and the health of the planet, so we make sure the highest-quality products are affordable. We’ve been doing this since 1955. It’s the reason Natural Grocers was founded.

Nothing impacts our health more than the food we eat, the supplements we take and the body care products we use every day. The way they are grown, produced and processed, what they contain, how they are packaged and what is added to them has a fundamental impact on our health and the wellbeing of our communities.

In 1990—back before it became the thing to do—we put together a dynamic list (one that has been growing ever since) of the most problematic ingredients and explain why we won’t carry them. We use this ever-evolving list to screen the products we carry, so you don’t have to worry. Only the best, highest-quality products end up on our shelves, in your grocery cart, and on your table.

Currently, there are thousands of artificial chemicals and additives that are allowed to be added to our food and more being approved every day. The list below does not list every single ingredient that we do not carry. However, you can be assured that we screen for all problematic ingredients and do not allow them, even ones you might not see listed here. If they are problematic, you will most likely not find them in the products on our shelves. The why explanations below are only on the most problematic ingredients and those most prevalently found in foods.

Our quality standards experts keep up on the latest research and meet regularly to consider product issues and concerns and to review specific ingredients, resulting in on-going modifications to this list. There is always one constant within the changes made to the list, our commitment to quality. We will never compromise our commitment to the quality of the products we provide to our communities.

Food Ingredients We Won’t Sell

Acesulfame K (aka Sweet One® or Sunette®): The FDA approved this artificial sweetener in 1988. Although this substance is on the FDA’s Generally Considered As Safe list, which is a list of additives believed to be harmless, its safety is still in question. The chemical structure of acesulfame K closely resembles that of saccharin, a weak carcinogen. Findings of several studies showed a group of rats fed acesulfame K developed more tumors than those not fed it. Acesulfame K was also found to raise the blood cholesterol levels of diabetic rats.

What

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

Why

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Although aluminum is naturally occurring and the most abundant metal in the earth’s crust, it has no known physiological role in the human body and, in fact, can be toxic at high levels.[i] In the general population, the major route of aluminum exposure is through aluminum-containing food additives used in processed foods. These additives are used in a variety of roles, including as anti-foaming agents, anti-caking agents, emulsifiers, binders and as neutralizing agents.[ii] Processed foods, such as breads, cakes, pastries, baking mixes, processed cheese, and powdered nondairy cream substitutes, and tend to be high in aluminum. While the majority of the aluminum-containing additives functionally do the same things, there is one that is an outlier and is a naturally occurring food color called carmine. Additives can also be found in baking powders, powdered foods, some artificial colors, antacids, and buffered aspirin. Aluminum does not need to be added to our food. There are multiple, less problematic alternatives to aluminum-containing additives. Because we believe food should be free from substances that are unnecessary, and that may pose health concerns, you won’t find any of these types of additives in any food we sell.

Daily consumption of aluminum varies widely based on how many processed foods you eat and exposure to contaminated drinking water; in the United States, daily aluminum intake from food ranges from 3.4 to 9 mg/day.[i] The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry recommends 1mg/kg/day as the oral minimal risk level for aluminum. The Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) has set the provisional tolerable weekly intake at 2 mg/kg body weight.[ii] The JECFA states that based on estimates of dietary intake of aluminum-containing food additives, adults can easily meet or exceed this level while dietary exposure in children can exceed this level by 2-fold.[iii] Considering a frozen pizza that contains aluminum-containing food additives can contain as much as 14 milligrams of aluminum per serving, it is easy to see how someone consuming multiple processed foods would meet or exceed these recommended limits.[iv]

When aluminum is absorbed into the body, it travels to all tissues, including the liver, spleen, heart, brain, placenta, and fetus.[i] Aluminum tissue accumulation is uneven though, and about half of the total body burden of aluminum is accumulated in our bones, while about a fourth is in the lungs.[ii] In both humans and animals, exposure to high concentrations of aluminum causes neurotoxicity.[iii] In animals, compounds containing aluminum negatively affect the male reproductive system, and maternal exposure causes embryotoxicity and affects the developing nervous system in offspring. Dating back to 1965, studies have suggested a link between Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases and aluminum exposure.[iv] Since that time, many correlations have been found. For instance, some studies have found higher levels of aluminum in the brains of deceased Alzheimer’s patients and others have found higher rates of Alzheimer’s in areas with higher levels of aluminum in the water. [v] [vi] Many studies have proposed mechanisms by which aluminum may impact memory and neurological function.8

 


[i] Aguilar F, Autrup H, Barlow S, et al. Scientific opinion of the panel on food additives, flavourings, processing aids and food contact material (AFC): Safety of aluminum from dietary intake. The EFSA Journal. 2008;754:1-34. https://efsa.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.2903/j.efsa.2008.754

[ii] Krewski D, Yokel RA, Nieboer E, et al. Human health risk assessment for aluminum, aluminum oxide, and aluminum hydroxide. J Toxicol Environ Health B Crit Rev. 2007;10(Suppl 1):1-269. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2782734/ 

[iii] Aguilar F, Autrup H, Barlow S, et al. Scientific opinion of the panel on food additives, flavourings, processing aids and food contact material (AFC): Safety of aluminum from dietary intake. The EFSA Journal. 2008;754:1-34. https://efsa.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.2903/j.efsa.2008.754

[iv] Kawahara M, Kato-Negishi M. Link between aluminum and the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease: the integration of the aluminum and amyloid cascade hypotheses. Int J Alzheimer’s Dis. 2011;2011:276393. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3056430/

[v] Mirza A, King A, Troakes C, Exley C. Aluminium in brain tissue in familial Alzheimer’s disease. J Trace Elem Med Biol. 2017;40:30-36. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0946672X16303777?via%3Dihub#tbl0005

[vi] Martyn CN, Barker DJ, Osmond C, et al. Geographical relation between Alzheimer’s disease and aluminum in drinking water. Lancet. 1989 Jan; 1(8629):59-62. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2562879/

 


[i] https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/tp22-c6.pdf https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/tp.asp?id=191&tid=34

[ii] Toxicological Profile for Aluminum. Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry. https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/tp.asp?id=191&tid=34

[iii] Seventy-fourth meeting of the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives Summary and Conclusions. July 4, 2011. http://www.fao.org/3/a-at873e.pdf

[iv] Saiyed SM, Yokel RA. Aluminum content of some foods and food products in the USA, with aluminum food additives. Food Additives and Contaminants. 2005 March;22(3):234-244. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/7724598_Aluminium_content_of_some_foods_and_food_products_in_the_USA_with_aluminium_food_additives

 


[i] https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/tp22-c6.pdf

[ii] https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/fdcc/?set=FoodSubstances

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In the quest to prolong the shelf life of processed foods, and thus maximize profits, manufacturers use a wide array of substances, including antibiotics and antifungals. We feel strongly that antibiotics and antifungals have no place in our food supply. Regular consumption of foods that contain antibiotics and antifungals may lead to both antibiotic resistance and antifungal resistance. Their unnecessary use in the food industry also risks environmental contamination that contributes to the growing problem of antibiotic pollution. Natural Grocers doesn’t allow antibiotics to be used in the production of any of our animal products, nor do we think they should be used as preservatives.

The major concern with the use of antibiotics and antifungals in our food supply is the development of resistance. We hear a lot about resistance when it comes to antibiotics, which is a major global health threat, but resistance can develop in fungi (molds) and yeasts as well. There are many mechanisms by which microbes can develop resistance, and once an organism has developed resistance it is capable of transferring it to other microbes of the same species and also to different species in a process known as horizontal gene transfer.[i]

Currently, there are two compounds, natamycin, which is an antifungal, and nisin, which is an antibiotic, that are approved for use in the food supply. Natamycin (aka pimaricin, tennecetin, Natacyn®, Natamax® B, and Natamax® B Plus) is an antifungal produced by the bacteria Streptomyces natalensis. It is used in the food industry to prevent the growth of mold and yeast on cheese and in some beverages and semi-solid foods like yogurt. It is also used as a pesticide and as a human drug to treat certain fungal eye infections.[ii] Nisin (aka Niseen®, Nisaplin®), produced by the bacteria Lactococcus lactis, is known as a lantibiotic (a type of bacteriocin, closely related to antibiotics) and is used by the food industry to prevent the growth of Gram-positive bacteria in and on processed cheese spreads, vegetables, and meats.[iii]

Time and time again, we have seen bacteria develop resistance to antimicrobials we didn’t think possible.[iv] [v] Although proponents like to claim that both natamycin and nisin have limited potential to develop resistance, research suggests that this may not be entirely true. In vitro, bacteria exposed to natamycin are more tolerant, indicating a possible developing of resistance.[vi] There is also a concern that when natamycin is used in higher amounts, as is often the case when it is mixed into a food as opposed to applied only to the surface, or when it is combined with carrier molecules that delay its breakdown, resistance by fecal yeast may occur,[vii] which could jeopardize not only the medicinal use of natamycin, but the entire class of polyene drugs which includes Amphotericin B and Nystatin. Signs of bacteria’s potential resistance to nisin also exist. Research suggests that numerous bacteria are capable of developing nisin resistance under the right conditions.[viii] [ix] [x]

Many life-saving drugs are currently at risk of becoming obsolete due to the increasing development of resistance, and we see no reason to further risk their efficacy by including them in our foods—especially when equally effective natural preservatives and new packaging technologies are available which can be used to preserve our food and provide the right balance between maintaining freshness and keeping unnecessary ingredients out of our food.

Another concern with these ingredients is that some of the natamycin and nisin that is currently used in food is produced by genetically modified bacteria, making them GMO products.[xi] [xii] [xiii] [xiv] How prevalent GMO natamycin and nisin are, is currently unknown and will not be truly clear anytime soon, as their GMO status will not be listed on the label. Current US regulations do not require products produced via genetically modified bacteria to be labeled as GMO/Genetically Engineered (GE) containing products.

For these reasons, you won’t see natamycin, nisin, or any other antibiotic or antifungal food preservatives in any of the foods we carry.

 


[i] Transfer of antibiotic resistance – Antibiotic resistance – ReAct. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.reactgroup.org/toolbox/understand/antibiotic-resistance/transfer-of-antibiotic-resistance/

[ii] https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2012/05/18/2012-12105/natamycin-exemption-from-the-requirement

of-a-tolerance

[iii] CFR - Code of Federal Regulations Title 21. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfCFR/CFRSearch.cfm?fr=184.1538

[iv] (2017, January 11). Retrieved April 09, 2019, from http://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2017/say-goodbye-antibacterial-soaps-fda-banning-household-item/

[v] Davies J, Davies D. Origins and evolution of antibiotic resistance. Microbiol Mol Biol Rev. 2010 Sep;74(3):417-433. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2937522/ 

[vi] Mohamed MA, Ranjard L, Catroux C, Catroux G, Hartmann A. Effect of natamycin on the enumeration, genetic structure and composition of bacterial community isolated from soils and soybean rhizosphere. J Microbiol Methods. 2005 Jan;60(1):31-40. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0167701204002283

[vii] Dalhoff AAH, Levy SB. Does use of the polyene natamycin as a food preservative jeopardise the clinical efficacy of amphotericin B? A word of concern. Int J Antimicrob Agents. 2015 June;45(6):564-567. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0924857915001028

[viii] Mantovani HC, Russell JB. Nisin resistance of Streptococcus bovis. Appl Environ Microbial. 2001 Feb;67(2):808-813. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC92651/

[ix] Sun Z, Zhong J, Liang X et al. Novel mechanism for nisin resistance via proteolytic degradation of nisin by the nisin resistance protein NSR. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2009 May;53(5):1964-1973. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2681560/  

[x] Blake KL, Randall CP, O’Neill AJ. In vitro studies indicate a high resistance potential for the lantibiotic nisin in Staphylococcus aureus and define a genetic basis for nisin resistance. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy. 2011 May;55(5):2362-2368. https://aac.asm.org/content/aac/55/5/2362.full.pdf

[xi] Hansen JN. Nisin as a model food preservative. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 1994;34(1):69-93. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8142045

[xii] Kallscheuer N. Engineered microorganisms for the production of food additives approved by the European Union—A systematic analysis. Front Microbiol. 2018;9:1746. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6085563/

[xiii] Gould G. Preservation principles and new technologies. In: Blackburn CW, McClure PJ. Foodborne Pathogens: Hazards, Risk Analysis and Control. 2nd ed. Boca Raton, FL: Woodhead Publishing, Ltd; 2009.

[xiv] Aparicio JF, Barreales EG, Payero TD, et al. Biotechnological production and application of the antibiotic pimaricin: biosynthesis and its regulation. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2016;100:61-78. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4700089/

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We do not carry apricot kernels because they contain naturally occurring cyanide.  Cyanide is a poison. The amount of cyanide can vary greatly from crop to crop and the amount present is not tested for. In 1993, the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets tested the cyanide content of two 220 gram (8 oz.) packages of apricot kernels imported from Pakistan that were being sold as a snack. The results showed that each package, if consumed entirely, contained at least double the minimum lethal dosage of cyanide for an adult human.

Artificial colors are linked to multiple health issues, including hyperactivity and cancer[i] and are derived from non-food sources, such as coal tar or petroleum. We believe that food should be free from substances that are unnecessary, be made from ingredients that come from natural sources and that those ingredients should not be linked to the development of health issues. If a company decides to add color to a food, there are plenty of naturally derived colors to choose from that are not linked to such an array of health concerns.

At Natural Grocers, we consider artificial colors to be any food coloring derived from a non-food source, such as coal tar or petroleum. The FDA calls food coloring derived from non-food sources certified color additives. They are called certified color additives because every time they are manufactured, they are required to undergo batch certification because the process of making them is so hazardous it can result in very dangerous chemicals in the final product. According to the FDA, “Color additives subject to certification are typically synthetic, made from raw materials obtained from petroleum.” They determine batch certification need based on “…whether the color additive needs this level of control to protect the public health. Some color additives, in their uncertified forms, might contain impurities at levels that pose a health concern.”[ii]

Even though artificial colors are batch certified by the FDA, they still may contain upwards of 10 percent impurities coming from the manufacturing processes or from the chemicals used to make them. Three of the nine certified artificial food dyes—red 40, yellow 5 and yellow 6—contain known carcinogens.[i]

Artificial colors appear in ingredient lists as a name of a color with a number following it, for example, Blue 1, Red 3 or Yellow 5. Sometimes they will be listed with FD&C preceding the name of the color, or they will simply be listed as artificial color(s). Currently, there are nine certified artificial food colors allowed by the FDA in/on food: Blue 1, Blue 2, Green 3, Orange B, Citrus Red 2, Red 3, Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6. Orange B is only allowed in casings or surfaces of frankfurters and sausages. Citrus Red 2 is only allowed to color the skins of oranges from the state of Florida but is banned in all other food in the US. Citrus Red 2 is listed by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as a group 2B carcinogen, a substance "possibly carcinogenic to humans.”[iii] It is not allowed on organic oranges. Natural Grocers only sells organic produce, so you do not have to worry about the oranges we sell being colored with Citrus Red 2.

Multiple studies indicate that all of the artificial certified colors currently approved for use in the United States are linked to adverse health issues—and these studies were conducted by the chemical industry itself.[i] The adverse health effects include allergies, hyperactivity, cancer, nerve-cell toxicity, genotoxicity, immune dysfunction, and death.[i] For example, Red 3 was recognized in 1990 by the FDA as a thyroid carcinogen in animals and is banned in cosmetics and externally applied drugs. However, it is still allowed in foods and drugs and is often found in sausage casings, oral medication, maraschino cherries, baked goods, and candies.[iv] Red 40 is the most widely used and consumed artificial color. It has been shown to increase immune system tumors in mice. It also causes hypersensitivity (allergy-like) reactions in some consumers and has been shown to trigger hyperactivity in children.[v] As of July 2010, most foods in the European Union that contain artificial food dyes come with warning labels. The warning states, “May have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.”[v]

Every year, food manufacturers pour 15 million pounds of artificial colors/food dyes into US foods. Americans are eating five-times as much artificial food dye as they did in 1955. However, if you’ve been shopping with us, this is not the case, as we have never sold foods containing them and never well.

 


[i] Food Dyes - Center for Science in the Public Interest. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://cspinet.org/sites/default/files/attachment/food-dyes-rainbow-of-risks.pdf

[ii] Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. (n.d.). Color Certification - Color Certification FAQs. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/forindustry/coloradditives/colorcertification/ucm510897.htm

[iii] Citrus Red 2. (2019, January 29). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citrus_Red_2

[iv] Toxic Food Dyes and Dangers of Artificial Food Coloring. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/02/24/are-you-or-your-family-eating-toxic-food-dyes.aspx

[v] Food Dyes Linked to Cancer, ADHD, Allergies. (2010, July 08). Retrieved from http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2010/07/popular-food-dyes-linked-to-cancer-adhd-and-allergies/#.W0viIa2ZNE4

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(aka Caprenin and Caprocaprylobehenin)

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There are over 2,000 flavorings - 500 are natural (which can be safe) and the rest are synthetic. The synthetic flavors are made from many different chemicals. Some can be toxic to the nervous system, the kidneys, or liver, but because they are usually consumed in small amounts they are relatively safe. There are also “flavor enhancers,” which are substances that seem to bring out or improve the flavors of a food. One example is MSG. As with any synthetic compound, sensitive people can have allergic reactions.

Today, there are numerous artificial preservatives that are allowed to be added to our food. Broadly speaking, preservatives are used to prolong the shelf life of food by preventing spoilage and are used to maintain color, preserve taste or texture, and/or to prevent microbial contamination. Different preservatives work in different ways. Antimicrobials block the growth of bacteria, molds, and yeasts. Antioxidants keep fats and oils from going rancid. Acidulants create an acidic environment that is inhospitable to microbes; and still, some preservatives simply maintain color, flavor and moisture.[i] [ii]

While artificial preservatives have become the norm, many have dubious safety profiles or are downright toxic. The list of potential harm from some of the most common artificial preservatives is concerning. Some are known or likely carcinogens; many are endocrine disruptors; some interfere with fetal and early childhood development or are linked to hyperactivity in children; others are toxic to the kidneys; some interfere with how important vitamins and minerals are used by the body; many are petroleum-derived, and, in some cases, coal-tar derived; and some are detrimental to the environment. [iii] [iv] [v] [vi] [vii] [viii] [ix] [x] [xi] [xii] [xiii] [xiv] Additionally, we don’t know the effects of the chemical cocktail that occurs when you eat several different foods with several different artificial preservatives.

At Natural Grocers, we believe food should be free from substances that are unnecessary and may pose health problems. We also think that food is healthier for us if it is not designed to last on the shelf forever. Creating food that never rots by using artificial preservatives creates food that is problematic to eat. There are numerous effective and safe natural preservatives and new packaging technologies, which can be used to preserve our food and provide the right balance between maintaining freshness and keeping food real.

 


[i] American Cancer Society. Focus on preservatives: how they keep food fresh. ScienceDaily. Nov 13, 2002. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/11/021113070827.htm

[ii] Bomgardner MM. The long road to all-natural preservatives. Chem & Engineer News. July 31, 2017. 95(31):20-22. https://cen.acs.org/articles/95/i31/The-long-road-to-all-natural-preservatives.html

[iii] https://oehha.ca.gov/media/downloads/proposition-65/p65list112318.pdf

[iv] https://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/ntp/roc/content/profiles/butylatedhydroxyanisole.pdf

[v]Generally Recognized as Safe – But is it? (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ewg.org/research/ewg-s-dirty-dozen-guide-food-additives/generally-recognized-as-safe-but-is-it

[vi] https://www.ewg.org/research/ewg-s-dirty-dozen-guide-food-additives/generally-recognized-as-safe-but-is-it

[vii] n.a. Final report on the safety assessment of EDTA, calcium disodium EDTA, diammonium EDTA, dipotassium EDTA, disodium EDTA, TEA-EDTA, tetrasodium EDTA, tripotassium EDTA, trisodium EDTA, HEDTA, and trisodium HEDTA. Int J Toxicol. 2002 Oct;21(2_suppl):95-142. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1080/10915810290096522#articleCitationDownloadContainer

[viii] McCann D, Barrett A, Cooper A, et al. Food additives and hyperactive behavior in 3-year-old and 8/9-year-old children in the community: a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial. Lancet. 2007 Nov 3; 370(9598):1560-1567. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=McCann+D+(2007).+Food+additives+and+hyperactive+behaviour+in+3-year-old+and+8%2F9-year-old+children+in+the+community%3A+a+randomised%2C+double-blinded%2C+placebo+controlled+trial.+Lancet%2C+370%2C+1560-156

[ix] Van De Sande MMH, Wirtz S, Vos E, Verhagen H. Diamine tetra acetic acid as a food additive. Eur J Nutr & Food Safety. 2014;4(4):408-423. http://www.journalrepository.org/media/journals/EJNFS_30/2014/Jul/Sande442014EJNFS10405_1.pdf

[x](n.d.). Retrieved from https://cspinet.org/eating-healthy/chemical-cuisine#propyleneglycol

[xi] Burton GW, Traber MG, Acuff RV, et al. Human plasma and tissue alpha-tocopherol concentrations in response to supplementation with deuterated natural and synthetic vitamin E. Am J Clin Nutr. 1998 Apr;67(4):669-684. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9537614

[xii] Van De Sande MMH, Wirtz S, Vos E, Verhagen H. Diamine tetra acetic acid as a food additive. Eur J Nutr & Food Safety. 2014;4(4):408-423. http://www.journalrepository.org/media/journals/EJNFS_30/2014/Jul/Sande442014EJNFS10405_1.pdf

[xiii] http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/press/news/151118

[xiv] Bucheli-Witschel M, Egli T. Environmental fate and microbial degradation of aminopolycarboxylic acids. FEMS Microbio Rev. 2001 Jan;25(1):69-106. https://academic.oup.com/femsre/article/25/1/69/606255

xiii http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/press/news/151118  

xiv Bucheli-Witschel M, Egli T. Environmental fate and microbial degradation of aminopolycarboxylic acids. FEMS Microbio Rev. 2001 Jan;25(1):69-106. https://academic.oup.com/femsre/article/25/1/69/606255   

Artificial sweeteners are substances that are chemically manufactured in a lab, do not exist in nature, and are designed to taste sweet and non-caloric. We believe that food should contain real ingredients.

  • See Acesulfame K, (aka Sweet One® or Sunette®) for more information
  • See Aspartame (NutraSweet®) for more information
  • See Sucralose (Splenda®)  for more information

The FDA and CDC (Center for Disease Control) have received more complaints from the use of this substance than any other food additive. Adverse reactions include high blood pressure, headaches, insomnia, ovarian cancer, brain tumor, PKU (Phenylketonuria), seizures, brain damage in fetuses, extreme swelling, throat swelling, allergic effects, and retina deterioration. Keep in mind, these dangerous side effects are worsened when Nutrasweet is heated or used in cooking.

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(butylated hydroxyanisole)

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(butylated hydroxytoluene)

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Milling whole wheat into white flour removes approximately 83% of the nutrients. Often times white flour suffers further processing with chemicals used to whiten and preserve the product. Chlorine dioxide (similar to Clorox) is used to bleach flour, which is an irritant to both the skin and the respiratory tract. Benzoyl peroxide is another chemical used to bleach flour. The bleaching process leaves residues of toxic chlorinated hydrocarbons and dioxins, both harmful for you and the environment. Methionine, an essential amino acid found in flour, reacts with bleaching chemicals to form toxic compounds called methionine sulfoxine, which has been found to cause nervousness and seizures in animals. In addition, the bleaching process further destroys nutrients that have not already been depleted by the high heat of milling.

(azodicarbonamide, benzoyl peroxide, calcium peroxide)

(calcium bromate, potassium bromide)

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(calcium bromate, potassium bromide, sodium bromate)

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Caffeine Ingredients that contain naturally occurring caffeine are approved.

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Carmine, a food color, is made from cochineal extract which is a color derived from insects, carmine is the ‘lake’ made from cochineal extract. Lakes for food use are made with aluminum-cation as the precipitant and aluminum hydroxide as the substratum. For more information as to why aluminum is problematic in food, please see Aluminum-containing additives.
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There are several economic, moral and health concerns with cloned animals. We do not know the long-term health effects of consuming cloned animals and cloned animal products in humans. Cloned animals give more power to large factory farm operations that are known to provide inhumane living conditions which negatively impacts the nutritional quality of the meat and dairy products from the animals. Compared to naturally-raised grass-fed cows, beef from factory-farmed cows have lower nutrient content (zinc, CoQ10, CLA, vitamin E, etc.) and higher omega-6 fatty acid content. Cloned animals may also reduce genetic diversity. Genetic diversity provides plants and animals with adaptability to fluctuating climates, disease resistance, and other traits essential for the species to survive in our evolving world.

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These chemicals are often found in artificial butter flavor most commonly used in microwave popcorn, but also in products like baked goods, sauces, cooking sprays and movie theater popcorn. Long term respiratory exposure to diacetyl causes the lung disease, bronchiolitis obliterans, a progressive disease in which the tiny airways of the lungs become inflamed, damaged and scarred. Workers handling these chemicals are at the greatest risk, although there have been cases of consumers developing the disease from chronic exposure via microwave popcorn. In test tubes, diacetyl has also been found to increase amyloid-β aggregation, one of the primary pathologies associated with Alzheimer’s disease, and exacerbate its toxicity. 2,3-pentanedione is structurally very similar to diacetyl and is often used as a replacement for diacetyl. It has been shown to increase inflammation in the brain of rats after inhalation, and both acute and longer-term exposure in lab animals produces changes to lung cells similar to those associated with diacetyl, suggesting it too is capable of causing lung damage.

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If the caffeine is added to create a consistent amount in a product that is naturally caffeinated and does not raise the amount in the product beyond what naturally occurs, this is approved in limited products.

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(aka Reb D and Reb M) More information coming soon.
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Confinement dairies are dairies where the emphasis is on production, the animals do not graze on growing pasture and live their unnaturally shortened lives enclosed in a barn or dirt yard. This practice is not environmentally sustainable, does not respect the life of the animals, and produces nutritionally inferior dairy. To offer our customers the best possible dairy and to create a market for farmers who eschew confinement dairy practices, we only sell fresh dairy products from animals that have grazed on pasture for a minimum of 120 days during the grazing season. Additionally, all-natural dairy products we offer come from animals that have not been fed GMO alfalfa and do not come from cloned animals. For more information please see our Dairy Standards webpage.

Bovine growth hormone (BGH) is a protein produced by cattle. The gene has been cloned into bacterial cells to create a genetically engineered version called rBGH. It has been available and used by US farmers since 1994 and is used to increase milk production. Cows injected with recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) have shorter life expectancies and increased incidence of disease. Cows injected with rBGH have been found to secret higher levels of IGF-1 (Insulin-like Growth Factor), a hormone that is tied to increased growth of cancer cells. It is reported that an excess level of IGF-1 poses serious risk of breast and prostate cancer in humans. Furthermore, rBGH is associated with high incidence of udder infections, internal bleeding, stress-related weight loss and severe reproductive disorders in cows. Please be aware that at this time we are unable to ensure that all our powdered milk and whey products are produced from rBGH free cows unless the product is listed as being organically produced. Also, bovine growth hormone can only be used on cows and not on goats; therefore, all goat milk-based products are inherently produced without the use of rBGH.

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The safety of GM (Genetically Modified) animals has not been established and millions of Americans have voiced their concerns over the introduction of GM animals into the food supply. Despite the uncertainty and opposition, GM salmon, known as AquaAdvantage® salmon, has been FDA approved for sale in the United States. AquaAdvantage® salmon have been engineered to continually produce growth hormone causing the fish to grow much larger and faster than conventionally-raised farmed salmon. These “frankenfish” pose a great risk to the environment and wild salmon populations should they escape into the wild. Although the producer of GM salmon has said they are taking steps to prevent cross-breeding with wild fish, their techniques are not 100% effective and the fish are capable of breeding in the wild with brown trout, a fish commonly found in the waters around the AquaAdvantage® salmon hatchery. Unfortunately, these GM salmon do not have to be labeled as GM, leaving consumers no way to know if their farmed salmon was genetically engineered.

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  • See Olestra for more information
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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. Excess trans-fatty acids can promote increased cholesterol and triglyceride counts, make blood platelets stickier which encourages blood clotting, worsen an essential fatty acid deficiency, interfere with the body’s detoxification system, interfere with insulin receptors, increase inflammation, and negatively impact the immune system.

Commonly listed on food labels as: hydrogenated oils, partially hydrogenated oils, vegetable oil shortening, shortening

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This is a process of exposing foods to radioactivity to prolong the shelf life and reduce the risk of bacterial contamination. This process is currently approved for meats, grains, some produce, herbs, and spices. The radioactive rays can cause “off” flavors and textures, reduce vitamins, minerals, and enzymes, and create chemical changes. All irradiated foods must be labeled as such, however, products containing irradiated ingredients do not require labeling. Prepared or packaged foods for restaurants, hospitals, or cafeterias are also exempt from labeling. Although you will NOT find irradiated food at Natural Grocers, keep a lookout when shopping at other establishments.

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(aka polydextrose and STA-LITE®)

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(aka dimethylpolysiloxane, polysilicon) More information coming soon.
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(aka mono- and diglycerides)

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MSG is an artificial ingredient that is made up of glutamic acid and sodium. Glutamate is an excitotoxin, which stimulates your brain into thinking what you are eating tastes better than it does. This stimulation makes MSG a flavor enhancer. The National Organization Mobilized to Stop Glutamate estimates that one-quarter of the world's population reacts adversely to MSG. Some possible reactions include headaches, migraines, stomach upset, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, irritable bowel, asthma attacks, shortness of breath, anxiety or panic attacks, heart palpitations, partial paralysis, "heart attack-like symptoms," balance difficulties, mental confusion, mood swings, skin rashes, runny nose, bags under the eyes, flushing, and mouth lesions. There are some ingredients that may contain MSG by the fact that it can be created during the manufacturing process. Some example ingredients include hydrolyzed vegetable protein, autolyzed yeast, kombu extract, broth, bouillon, stock, flavoring, natural flavoring, natural flavors, and natural chicken flavoring. Therefore, those who are particularly sensitive to MSG may want to avoid these ingredients as well.

Brand name: TREHA®

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Brand name: Newtame

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Conventional farming is in a perpetual cycle of using numerous pesticides to treat the soil and plants. There are many concerns about the use of these chemicals. First, many chemicals used today are known toxins to the body. In addition, banned pesticides such as DDT still linger in our soils. Secondly, large-scale pesticide spraying has created enormous pollution problems. A small percentage of the applied pesticide actually hits its intended target: the pests. Excess goes into groundwater, rivers, and the air. Lastly is the concern of nutrient value. Not only do pesticides reside in the flesh of the foods they are sprayed on, but they also soak into the soil and deplete its nutrients. Therefore, if the soil is nutrient depleted, the food that is grown in that soil has less nutrient value. Organic farming is a method of growing foods with natural materials such as composted animal manure, fishmeal, seaweed, or alfalfa meal. Organic growers manage pests through prevention – proper soil management, cleanliness, timely planting, companion planting, and beneficial insects. Some organic growers may use some natural pesticides such as Bt and insecticidal soap if needed. Additionally, by law certified organic foods cannot be genetically engineered, irradiated, or be grown with synthetic materials.

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This synthetic fat is a combination of soybean oil and sucrose. These ingredients are manipulated into molecules too large for the colon to absorb or digest. Therefore, Olestra passes untouched through the digestive system. This product has the potential to replace fat in such foods as chips and crackers. Preliminary studies suggest that Olestra causes tumors in laboratory animals. Olestra interferes with fat-soluble vitamin absorption, which includes vitamin A, E, D, K, Co-Enzyme Q-10, carotenoids, lutein, lycopene, and beta-carotene. Clinical studies have shown that 8 grams per day (equivalent to 16 Olestra containing potato chips) caused a dramatic depletion of fat-soluble vitamins within 2 weeks. This fake fat may also cause intestinal cramping, flatulence, and loose stool.

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methyl, propyl, butyl, etc. 

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(aka trans fats)

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(brand names such as STA-LITE®, Litesse®) 

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More information coming soon. (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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More information coming soon. (see also potassium metabisulfite & sulfites) potassium bisulfate, sodium bisulfite, sulfur dioxide, potassium metabisulfite
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Visit our Bulk Standards page for more information.

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GMO produced stevia glycosides (aka EverSweet™, it will be labeled as steviol glycosides in the US— made by Cargill) More information coming soon.
(aka Truvia®) More information coming soon.
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(aka Sweet ‘n Low®) More information coming soon.
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(aka Sucralose) Splenda is a no-calorie sugar substitute derived from sucrose (sugar) through a process that selectively substitutes three atoms of chlorine for three hydrogen-oxygen groups on the sucrose molecule. This makes sucralose a chlorocarbon, a substance that has long been known for causing organ, genetic, and reproductive damage. The Merck Manuel and OSHA Hazardous Waste Handbook state that chlorine is a carcinogen. Sucralose has also been shown to cause swelling of the liver and kidneys.

(aka polydextrose and Litesse®)

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(aka Reb D and M or EverSweet™)

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(aka Splenda®)

Sucralose is a no-calorie sugar substitute derived from sucrose (sugar) through a process that selectively substitutes three atoms of chlorine for three hydrogen-oxygen groups on the sucrose molecule. This makes sucralose a chlorocarbon, a substance that has long been known for causing organ, genetic, and reproductive damage. The Merck Manuel and OSHA Hazardous Waste Handbook state that chlorine is a carcinogen. Sucralose has also been shown to cause swelling of the liver and kidneys.

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  • See Olestra for more information

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(aka sulfur dioxide, potassium- & sodium bisulfite, potassium & sodium metabisulfite, sodium sulfite)

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Sunette® (aka Acesulfame K or Sweet One®): The FDA approved this artificial sweetener in 1988. Although this substance is on the FDA’s Generally Considered As Safe list, which is a list of additives believed to be harmless, its safety is still in question. The chemical structure of acesulfame K closely resembles that of saccharin, a weak carcinogen. Findings of several studies showed a group of rats fed acesulfame-K developed more tumors than those not fed it. Acesulfame-K was also found to raise the blood cholesterol levels of diabetic rats.

(aka saccharin)

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Sweet One® (aka Acesulfame K or Sunette®): The FDA approved this artificial sweetener in 1988. Although this substance is on the FDA’s Generally Considered As Safe list, which is a list of additives believed to be harmless, its safety is still in question. The chemical structure of acesulfame K closely resembles that of saccharin, a weak carcinogen. Findings of several studies showed a group of rats fed acesulfame-K developed more tumors than those not fed it. Acesulfame-K was also found to raise the blood cholesterol levels of diabetic rats.

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(tertiary butylhydroquinone)

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(aka trehalose or mycose)
(aka mycose or tremalose) Brand name: TREHA®
(aka trehalose or mycose) Brand name: TREHA®

(aka Rebiana)

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Grandfathered & Limited Grocery Ingredients

Our Quality Standards Committee meets regularly to review specific ingredients in order to ensure we are only providing the best products with the best ingredients.  

As new research becomes available, an ingredient that might not have been considered problematic may now be an ingredient of concern or unacceptable. Depending on the degree of concern, we will either immediately remove it from a sale, or we will 'grandfather in' the ingredient and allow products containing it to remain on the shelf while we encourage vendors to reformulate. 

Our underlying philosophy is that food should come from real sources and undergo as few modifications as possible. We work rigorously to keep our food as clean and as simple as we can. 

New items with ingredients that are high-risk of coming from genetically modified organisms (GMOs) must be organic or must be verified as non-GMO. If a company cannot provide confirmation, we will not carry the product.  

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Modified food starches are regular food starches that undergo extensive processing, sometimes with toxic chemicals, and therefore are ingredients that are not in alignment with our general food philosophy. For these reasons, we have decided to limit the amount of modified food starches that we allow in foods on our shelves.

Modified food starches include, but are not limited to, modified corn starch, modified tapioca starch, modified potato starch, and modified wheat starch. They may be listed on ingredient panels as one of these starches or may be listed simply as modified food starch. Once rare in natural food store offerings, they have now become more commonplace. They are used as food additives for the same reasons as unmodified starches—to thicken, stabilize and emulsify foods—but are sometimes preferred by manufacturers because they are easier to use in some instances (such as with excessive heat or freezing), and they often extend the shelf life of the product, and thus maximize profits.

When evaluating whether we should continue to bring in foods that contain modified food starches, there were several questions that we asked. Is the ingredient processed more than it needs to be? Is the processing method problematic? And, is it possible to make a comparable product using a less processed ingredient? The answer to all of these questions is yes. Modified food starches undergo extensive processing, sometimes with toxic chemicals, and there are multiple comparable products made with unmodified food starches that taste as good and meet the needs of consumers.

As alluded to above, modified food starches are made by physically, enzymatically, or chemically altering the starch. Each of these different processing methods and treatments modifies the starch (hence the name) in different ways to give it different properties. While some of these methods use relatively benign ingredients, others do not. Unfortunately, the processing method is not disclosed on the label. The label will only indicate that the product contains a modified food starch. Some of these processing methods leave behind trace amounts of chemicals, either the chemicals used to modify the starch or ones created during the modification process. Additionally, some of these processing methods use chemicals that are toxic to the environment and/or to the humans handling them and, thus, should not be used to process food. Below is a partial list of potentially problematic chemicals that are allowed to be used to modify food starches. We believe that these chemicals should not play a role in creating foods that we consume.

  • Epichlorohydrin is an organochlorine chemical that is classified by several international health research agencies and groups as a probable or likely human carcinogen.[1]
  • Propylene oxide (PPO) is a synthetic, highly flammable, volatile, colorless liquid chemical. It is used as a pesticide and a fumigant for the sterilization of packaged foods and plastic medical instruments. Acute inhalation of PPO vapors can result in respiratory tract irritation, coughing, difficulty in breathing (dyspnea) and buildup of fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema) that can possibly lead to pneumonia. Studies in animals have demonstrated that propylene oxide is a direct-acting carcinogen and it is reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.[2] [3] Additionally, when propylene oxide is used to modify food starches it can leave behind trace amounts of propylene chlorohydrin. Studies indicate that propylene chlorohydrin causes chromosome and DNA damage in mammalian cells in culture and induces DNA damage and mutations in bacterial assays including the Ames test, which is used to identify potential carcinogens.[4] PPO, outside of being used to make modified starches, is commonly used to pasteurize almonds and spices. We do not allow PPO to be used on any Natural Grocers Brand products, including our bulk herbs, bulk almonds, and fresh ground almond butter.
  • Vinyl acetate does not occur naturally in the environment. It is a highly flammable industrial chemical that is used to modify food starches and as a coating in plastic films for food packaging. Outside of food manufacturing, vinyl acetate is used to make other industrial chemicals that are used to make glues for the packaging and building industries, paints, textiles, and paper.[5]
  • Acetic anhydride is an industrial chemical that is an irritant and highly flammable. The vapor of acetic anhydride is harmful. It is used mainly in the production of commercially significant materials, of which the most common is cellulose acetate, which is a component of photographic film, plastics, and other coated materials.[6]

Modified food starches are ultra-processed food additives. It is possible to achieve the same quality of product using unmodified food starches as evident in products currently doing so on our shelves. Additionally, as mentioned above, the modification process could use problematic chemicals and it is very difficult to know what method was used to modify any specific starch as the label will only indicate that it contains modified food starch—not the processing chemicals used. For these reasons, we have decided to limit the number of foods we sell that contain modified food starches. We will not be removing any products that contain them, instead, we will continue to carry all current products that contain them and are recommending to our vendors that they move away from this extremely processed ingredient. Additionally, we may approve some new products that contain modified food starches—if they fulfill a significant need and if the modified starch is made without the use of any problematic chemicals.


[1] Epichlorohydrin. (2018, November 29). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epichlorohydrin

[2] CDC - NIOSH Publications and Products - Carcinogenic Effects of Exposure to Propylene Oxide (89-111). (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/89-111/default.html

[3] Propylene oxide. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Propylene_oxide#section=3D-Conformer

[4] Propylene chlorohydrins toxicity reports, review - hazard potential, risk. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.bibra-information.co.uk/downloads/toxicity-profile-for-propylene-chlorohydrins-1994/

[5] “Vinyl Acetate.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. PubChem Compound Database, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/vinyl_acetate.

[6] Acetic anhydride. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/acetic_anhydride

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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

Antibacterial soaps and body washes contain compounds that work like antibiotics. Currently, such products are allowed by the FDA to contain the following chemicals: benzalkonium chloride, benzethonium chloride or chloroxylenol (PCMX). In 2016, the FDA banned 19 antibacterial chemicals, including triclosan, from use in antibacterial soaps and body washes because there was mounting evidence that these substances were harmful to humans and the environment, were no more effective than washing with soap and water and were contributing to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.[i],[ii]

However, the allowed replacement chemicals are, according to the researchers: “… not any safer than the banned antimicrobials.” And, “These findings strongly indicate that scrutiny should be put on these replacement compounds before their introduction into massive use in personal care products.”[iii] Unfortunately, this has not happened. Studies have found that they contribute to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.[iv],[v],[vi]

Furthermore, consumers should be aware that while triclosan and the other 18 chemicals were supposed to have been removed from sale by 2017 due to safety concerns with them, many online vendors are still selling antibacterial soaps that contain these banned antimicrobials.

Additionally, while the FDA banned triclosan in antibacterial soaps and body washes because it is a known hormone disrupter and causes antibiotic resistance, it is still allowed in hand sanitizers and wipes, toothpaste, pacifiers, clothes, food containers, and toys. Natural Grocers does not carry any product that contains triclosan or any other antimicrobial chemicals that have been banned or are currently allowed in antibacterial soaps, body washes, hand sanitizers/wipes, etc.

 


[i] Kodjak, A. (2016, September 02). FDA Bans 19 Chemicals Used In Antibacterial Soaps. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/09/02/492394717/fda-bans-19-chemicals-used-in-antibacterial-soaps

[ii] Say Goodbye to Antibacterial Soaps: Why the FDA is banning a household item. (2017, January 11). Retrieved from http://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2017/say-goodbye-antibacterial-soaps-fda-banning-household-item/

[iii] Sreevidya, V. S., Lenz, K. A., Svoboda, K. R., & Ma, H. (2018, April). Benzalkonium chloride, benzethonium chloride, and chloroxylenol - Three replacement antimicrobials are more toxic than triclosan and triclocarban in two model organisms. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29348075

[iv] Tandukar, M., Oh, S., Tezel, U., Konstantinidis, K. T., & Pavlostathis, S. G. (2013, September 03). Long-term exposure to benzalkonium chloride disinfectants results in change of microbial community structure and increased antimicrobial resistance. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23924280

[v] Akimitsu, N., Hiroshi Hamamoto, R. I., Shoji, M., Akifumi Akamine, K. T., Hamasaki, N., & Sekimizu, K. (1999, December 01). Increase in Resistance of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus to β-Lactams Caused by Mutations Conferring Resistance to Benzalkonium Chloride, a Disinfectant Widely Used in Hospitals. Retrieved from http://aac.asm.org/content/43/12/3042.full

[vi] Taheri, N., Ardebili, A., Amouzandeh-Nobaveh, A., & Ghaznavi-Rad, E. (2016, November). Frequency of Antiseptic Resistance Among Staphylococcus aureusand Coagulase-Negative Staphylococci Isolated From a University Hospital in Central Iran. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5099399/

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, 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