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The Banned List

NO preservatives, artificial flavors, growth hormones, or antibiotics, EVER! 
We wholeheartedly believe that you should know what’s in the food you’re eating. We’re also of the opinion that unnatural chemicals and hormones should never be in food, which is why we don’t sell them. Our Banned List of questionable ingredients leaves only 100% pure food. At Honest Weight, it’s all natural, all the time.

The following are ingredients that the Membership of HWFC has decided not to sell because they contradict the principles on which the Co-op was founded.

You can see the whole Food & Product Manual here, read about our meat-buying policies here and our GMO policy here. Click the links below to learn more about why each ingredient was banned. 

Artificial Food Coloring

Artificial Preservatives and Additives

BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole)

BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene)

Nitrites and Propionates


PFCs (Perfluorinated Compounds)

PFOA (Perfluorooctanoic Acid)

PFOS (Perfluorooctane Sulfonic Acid

PTFE (Teflon)

Potassium Sorbate

Potassium Bromate

Sodium Benzoate

Potassium Benzoate

Calcium Benzoate

Artificial Sweeteners

Aspartame (Nutrasweet),

Saccharin (Sweet N’ Low)

Sucralose (Splenda)

Dairy Products from Cows that are given Growth Hormones

High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)

Hydrogenated Oil (Trans Fat)

Inhumane Products


Genetically-Modified Farmed Fish

Seafood on the Seafood Watch Avoid List


  • Artificial Food Coloring: Most artificial colorings are synthetic chemicals and do not occur in nature. Critics charge that they have been inadequately tested. As one example, Yellow #5 has been implicated as an allergen, creating responses ranging from hives to death through anaphylactic shock. Effects in the developing nervous system are now being studied as a potential cause of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Also, some types of "caramel color" are artificial and contain a potentially carcinogenic chemical called 4-methylimidazole (4-MeI). 
  • Artificial Preservatives and Additives: Are toxic to human health and the environment. Natural preservatives are available and effective. Examples include ascorbic acid, hot pepper, salt, sugar, and vinegar.
    • BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole): Listed as a known carcinogen in the state of California. The European Union classifies BHA as an endocrine disruptor. It is a preservative and stabilizer used in many processed foods including chips and preserved meats. It is also added to fats and to foods that contain fats and is allowed as a preservative in flavoring.
    • BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene): Cousin to BHA, it too is added to food as a preservative. The two compounds act synergistically and are often used together.
    • Nitrites and Propionates: Are allergens. They can cause severe reactions in susceptible individuals and are suspected carcinogens.
    • Parabens: A synthetic preservative found in many products, from foods, to cosmetics and body products. These chemicals produce estrogenic effects and have been found in human breast cancer cell cultures. The European Food Safety Authority has set an Acceptable Daily Intake of 0-10 mg per kilogram of bodyweight per day for methyl- and ethylparaben. Typical products which contain parabens include beer, sauces, desserts, soft drinks, processed fish, jams, pickles, frozen dairy products, processed vegetables, and flavoring syrups. Propylparaben, used as a preservative in foods such as tortillas, muffins, and food dyes, is an endocrine-disrupting chemical that acts as a weak synthetic estrogen. It can alter the expression of genes and has been reported to accelerate the growth of breast cancer cells. It has also been linked to impaired fertility in women.
    • Potassium Sorbate: A preservative used to suppress formation of molds and yeasts in foods, wines and personal care products. In-vitro studies suggest that it is toxic to DNA and has a negative affect on immunity.
    • Potassium Bromate: An oxidizing agent used as food additive, mainly in the bread making process, and has been classified as possibly carcinogenic to humans by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. It is banned from use in foods in all countries of the EU, Canada, Argentina, and Brazil. The state of California requires warning label on any foods containing this additive. Animal studies indicate that it is toxic to kidneys and can cause damage to DNA.
    • Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Benzoate, and Calcium Benzoate: When combined with Vitamin C these form benzene, a highly carcinogenic compound that damages the mitochondria in cells.
  • Artificial Sweeteners: Aspartame (Nutrasweet), Saccharin (Sweet N’ Low), and Sucralose (Splenda) are examples of common artificial sweeteners. The original aspartame studies showed that the drug has triggered brain, mammary, uterine, ovarian, testicular, thyroid, and pancreatic tumors. More recent studies show that aspartame increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. Studies on animals have shown that saccharin can cause cancer and it is listed as a carcinogen by the World Health Organization. The U.S. Congress intervened to permit its use in the United States with a warning label. Sucralose has not been subjected to long-term health studies in humans.
    • Note: HWFC does carry natural low-calorie alternatives such as Maltitol, Sorbitol, Mannitol, and Xylitol. These products contribute fewer calories than sugar; however, they may have a laxative effect if consumed in large amounts.
  • Dairy Products from Cows that are given Growth Hormones: Recombinant Bovine Growth
    Hormone (rBGH) is used primarily to increase milk production. Its use results in increased inflammation of the udders; cows are then given antibiotics to reduce the inflammation. There is a public health concern that antibiotics are becoming ineffective because of their overuse in the treatment of animals. HWFC milk and dairy suppliers have informed us that growth hormones are not given to their cows. Note: The prohibition on rBGH does not apply to processed, pre-packaged products. HWFC cannot reliably determine the source of dairy ingredients, and therefore whether or not hormones were administered. Organic standards do not permit the use of rBGH, antibiotics, or hormones.
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS): A highly refined product with no nutritional value, derived mostly from Genetically-Modified (GMO) corn. It may unfavorably alter blood lipids, notably triglycerides, increases the risk of heart disease and contributes to obesity. Detrimental environmental effects from growing corn to produce corn syrup include soil depletion, nitrogen runoff, and herbicide and pesticide contamination. Because of increased public awareness about the potential health damaging effects of HFCS, an effort is being made by the processed food industry to create derivatives of HFCS from corn or other starches that are just as or more damaging to health than HFCS. Following are some of currently known names: maize syrup, glucose syrup, tapioca syrup, fruit fructose, crystalline fructose, fructose. All aforementioned shall be treated in the same manner as HFCS.
  • Hydrogenated Oil (Trans Fat): Scientific studies have confirmed hydrogenated oils are harmful to health. Experts recommend that any intake of trans fats be avoided. As of 2006, all manufacturers must label the presence of trans fat on the "Nutrition Facts" panel of packages.
  • Inhumane Products: Any product tested on animals or any product from animals raised in a CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation).
  • Tobacco: Although additive-free sources of tobacco are available, smoke itself contains many carcinogenic compounds. According to the American Lung Association, the use of tobacco is implicated in a variety of cancers, emphysema, and asthma. The ruling of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) about the effects of second-hand smoke on health has resulted in the prohibition of smoking in public places.
  • Toxic chemicals: 
    • PFCs (Perfluorinated Compounds): Including the range of chemicals known as fluorotelomers, grease-resistant chemical substances linked to cancer and birth defects. Used in pizza boxes, microwave popcorn bags, sandwich wrappers, and other food packaging. There are almost a hundred PFCs used in food packaging, 3 were recently banned by the FDA. Fluorotelomers eventually breakdown to Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) and similar chemicals in our bodies and in the environment, where they are extremely persistent; as a result, they have contaminated soil, air, and groundwater at sites across the United States. The toxicity, mobility, and bioaccumulation potential of PFCs pose potential adverse effects for the environment and human health. Some of the more commonly known PFCs are: 
    • PFOA (Perfluorooctanoic Acid): Used in surface protection products such as carpet, clothing treatments, and coatings for paper and cardboard packaging. PFOA has been classified as “possibly carcinogenic to humans” (Group 2B), based on limited evidence in humans, that it can cause testicular and kidney cancer.
    • PFOS (Perfluorooctane Sulfonic Acid): Epidemiologic studies have shown an association of PFOS exposure and the incidence of bladder cancer. There is also evidence of high acute toxicity to honey bees.
    • PTFE (Teflon): According to tests commissioned by the EWG, Teflon surfaces for cookware and nonstick surfaces can exceed temperatures at which the coating breaks apart and emit toxic articles and gases. The toxic effects are released in just two to five minutes on a conventional stove-top at temperatures above 350F, and have been linked to pet bird deaths due to polymer fume fever.