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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 view our Food & Product Manual, read about our meat-buying policies and our GMO policy. 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


What Honest Weight Promotes and Why

Below is an outline of what Honest Weight promotes. This and more about our buying policies can be found in our Food & Product Manual. By following these guidelines, we can ensure that the products we offer not only support good nutrition and wellness care, but that they support local farmers and responsible businesses.

Whole and Minimally Processed Foods: As the basis for a healthy diet, these foods are recommended by nutritionists.

Organically Grown, Biodynamic, and Certified Naturally Grown Foods: These foods are produced without chemical fertilizers, hormones, antibiotics, synthetic pesticides, irradiation, or genetically modified organisms; all of these have been shown to be harmful to humans, animals, and the planet.

Not Certified Organic, but Locally Grown with Organic Principles: We understand that the high cost of getting organic certification is not affordable for many small local farmers.

Ordering, Displaying, and Selling Food in Bulk: The HWFC has consistently invested resources in maintaining a substantial volume of products in Bulk. Customers can reuse their own clean and inspected containers, serve themselves, and avoid the use of pre-packaging. Bulk foods conserve natural resources and protect the environment from excessive packaging. Many bulk foods are nutritious whole foods and are often less expensive than packaged foods.

Local, Seasonal, and Small-Scale Farming: Foods grown locally on a smaller production scale and sold in season offer several benefits;

  • Local produce has a shorter distance to travel, which reduces the amount of fossil fuels needed for transport.
  • The shorter transport time allows the produce to mature fully before being harvested and to retain higher nutritional value.
  • Small-scale farming focuses on diversity rather than mono-cropping. Biodiversity is better for the ecosystem and for the farmer. If one crop fails, the farm has many more to fall back on.
  • Sourcing from local small-scale farms promotes connections between consumers and farmers.

Local Producers: Local production strengthens the local economy. In addition to showcasing these producers, HWFC promotes Consumer Supported Agriculture (CSA).

Affordable Price: HWFC is committed to providing nutritious food at the lowest achievable price in accordance with HWFC principles.

Cooperative Organizations: HWFC embraces the idea that cooperative action enhances the ability of individuals to exert control over their social and economic lives, and promotes purchasing from other cooperatives.

Environmentally Sustainable Disposable Products and Cleaning Supplies: These products have a lighter environmental impact. Many are biodegradable, incorporate recycled materials, and use more environmentally friendly materials and production methods.

Fair Trade Certified and Companies Which Promote Fair Labor Practices: Fair trade products and fair labor practices offer producers and employees a living wage and humane working conditions.

Health and Nutrition Education: HWFC strives to empower customers to make better dietary and lifestyle choices by providing information related to our products and mission.

Pure, Simple, and Cruelty-Free Products: Personal care and household products made with few or no synthetics and minimal ingredients mean fewer health risks.

Minimal Packaging: HWFC promotes reuse and recycling of containers and seeks to limit singleserving and excessive packaging.

Shared Information: HWFC is committed to seeking multiple perspectives on complex issues and sharing verifiable information related to our mission.

Transparency: Products that have been certified to defined standards. Third-party certifications can be helpful in identifying minimum standards that consumers can use in making purchasing choices. For example, Green Seal is a non-profit organization whose mission is to work toward environmental sustainability by identifying and promoting environmentally responsible products, purchasing, and production. Manufacturers authorized to use the Green Seal Certification Mark on their products are subject to an ongoing program of testing, inspection, and enforcement. Most of the ingredients HWFC strives to avoid are prohibited under Green Seal Certification. Note that smaller manufacturers often find certification cost prohibitive and therefore forgo the certification process. Environmental Working Group (EWG) is another example of a non-profit organization engaged in research and identification of toxins in foods and consumer products. A free smartphone application is available that will identify a product’s toxicity by scanning its barcode. Seafood Watch recommendations help consumers to identify seafood that is fished or
farmed in ways that protect sea life and it’s habitats. A mobile application is available to view ratings of seafood toxicity and sourcing information.

Labeling at the Point of Display: Products will be prominently labeled so that customers can easily find what they are looking for and to successfully avoid what they do not want.

Humanely Raised and Cruelty-Free: The Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics administers the Leaping Bunny program. Leaping Bunny has a cruelty-free standard for nearly 200 companies producing cosmetic, personal care, and household products. This assures that no animal testing is used in any phase of producer development by the company, its laboratories, or suppliers.

Animal Welfare Approved (AWA): Animal Welfare Approved has the most rigorous standards for farm animal welfare and environmental sustainability currently in use by any U.S. farm program. Their standards have been developed in collaboration with scientists, veterinarians, researchers, and farmers across the globe to maximize practicable, high-welfare farm management with the environment in mind. They are one of only two labels in the U.S. that require audited, highwelfare slaughter practices, and is the only label that requires pasture access for all animals.

Banned List Ingredient Details

  • 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.

Food and Product Manual

Our most recent Food and Product Manual was approved by our member-owner community and went into effect on 10/25/20. We routinely change this manual to make sure that we keep current on changes in food, vendors and farms and producers. Our current manual covers a wide range of ingredients, including artificial flavors, colors and sweeteners, and GMO ingredients.

If you have any questions or concerns about the Food and Product Manual or the products on our shelves please contact the Nutrition & Education Committee at

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See our Food & Product Manual full page here!