Minor ingredients and processing agents

(Revised: 07/01/2014)

PCC Natural Markets uses the following list of ingredients as a guideline for approving new products and for reviewing current ones that may have been reformulated.

For questions, please e-mail:

Criteria definitions

  • acceptable — generally considered safe (excluding allergies/sensitivities that individuals may have)
  • not acceptable — may be harmul to health and/or is a relatively unnecessary additive creating a lower quality food
  • under review — PCC Quality Standards Team is evaluating the status of this item
Ingredients Function Status
acacia gum emulsifier, stabilizer acceptable
acesulfame-K (acesulfame-potassium) artificial sweetener not acceptable
acetic acid acidulant, flavoring agent acceptable
acetylated esters of mono- and diglycerides emulsifier not acceptable
Advantame artificial sweetener not acceptable
aerosol sprays with chloroflurocarbon propellant not acceptable
algin thickener, stabilizer acceptable
alpha tocopherol antioxidant acceptable
alpha tocopherol acetate antioxidant acceptable
ammonium bicarbonate leavening agent acceptable
ammonium chloride dough conditioner not acceptable
ammonium lauryl sulfate surfactant/detergent not acceptable in body care or food
ammonium phosphate leavening agent, dough strengthener acceptable
amodimethicone conditioner not acceptable in body care or food
annatto coloring agent acceptable
Arabic gum emulsifier, stabilizer acceptable
artificial colors (red #3, red # 40, yellow #5, yellow #6, blue #1, blue #2, green #3) coloring agent not acceptable
artificial flavors flavoring agent not acceptable
ascorbates antioxidant acceptable
ascorbic acid antioxidant acceptable
ascorbyl palmitate antioxidant acceptable
aspartame artificial sweetener not acceptable
astaxanthin (artificial) 1 coloring agent not acceptable
astaxanthin (natural) 1 coloring agent acceptable
azodicarbonamide dough conditioner not acceptable
baking powder leavening agent acceptable
behentrimonium methosulfate conditioner not acceptable in body care or food
benzoates preservative in liquid supplements acceptable
benzoates preservative in foods not acceptable
benzoyl peroxide bleaching agent for flour not acceptable
beta-carotene antioxidant, coloring agent acceptable
BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) antioxidant not acceptable
BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) antioxidant not acceptable
bleached flour artificially aged flour not acceptable
bromated flour artificially aged and treated flour not acceptable
brominated vegetable oil (BVO) flavor carrier not acceptable
BST (bovine somatotropin) genetically modified growth hormone used to increase milk production in cows not acceptable
butane glycol humectant, flavor solvent not acceptable
butylene glycol humectant, flavor solvent not acceptable
calcium bromate dough conditioner, maturing/bleaching agent not acceptable
calcium carbonate alkali acceptable
calcium caseinate texturizer acceptable
calcium chloride firming agent acceptable
calcium citrate alkali acceptable
calcium disodium EDTA antioxidant, sequestrant, preservative not acceptable
calcium lactate stabilizer, texturizer, buffering agent acceptable
calcium peroxide dough conditioner, bleaching agent not acceptable
calcium phosphate dough conditioner, firming agent acceptable
calcium propionate preservative, antimycotic agent not acceptable
calcium saccharin artificial sweetener not acceptable
calcium sorbate preservative not acceptable
calcium stearoyl-2-lactylate dough conditioner, emulsifier not acceptable
calcium sulfate firming agent, dough conditioner acceptable
canthaxanthine coloring agent not acceptable
caprocaprylobehenin fat substitute not acceptable
caramel color coloring agent under review
carbomer emulsifying agent not acceptable in body care or food
carmine (cochineal) coloring agent, derived from insect not acceptable
carnauba wax anti-caking agent, excipient, glazing and polishing agent acceptable
carob bean gum thickener, stabilizer, emulsifier acceptable
carotene coloring agent acceptable
carrageenan stabilizer, thickener Not acceptable for new items
casein (milk protein) texturizer, emulsifier acceptable
cellulose stabilizer, thickener acceptable
ceteareth-20 surfactant/detergent not acceptable in body care or food
cetrimonium chloride topical antiseptic not acceptable in body care or food
chlorine disinfectant, bleaching agent in household products acceptable
citric acid acidulant, antioxidant acceptable
cochineal (carmine) coloring agent, derived from insect not acceptable
coco DEA (Cocomide DEA) surfactant/detergent not acceptable in body care or food
cocoamidopropyl betaine surfactant/detergent not acceptable in body care or food
corn starch thickener acceptable
corn syrup sweetener, thickener acceptable
cottonseed oil oil not acceptable
cream of tartar leavener, acidulant, thickening agent acceptable
cyclamates artificial sweetener not acceptable
cyclopentasiloxane emollient not acceptable in body care or food
cysteine (l-cysteine) additive for bread not acceptable
DATEM (Diacetyl tartaric and fatty acid esters of mono and diglycerides) emulsifier not acceptable
dextrose sweetener acceptable
diacetyl artificial butter flavoring not acceptable
diazolidinyl urea preservative not acceptable in body care or food
dicalcium phosphate texturizer, dough conditioner acceptable
diglycerides emulsifier acceptable
dimethicone anti-foaming agent not acceptable in body care or food
dimethylpolysiloxane anti-foaming agent not acceptable in body care or food
dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate (DSS) emulsifier, stabilizer not acceptable
dipotassium phosphate emulsifier, buffer acceptable
disodium calcium EDTA antioxidant, sequestrant not acceptable
disodium cocoamphodiacetate surfactant/detergent not acceptable in body care or food
disodium dihydrogen EDTA antioxidant, sequestrant not acceptable
disodium guanylate flavor enhancer not acceptable
disodium inosinate flavor enhancer not acceptable
disodium phosphate protein stabilizer, buffer, emulsifier acceptable
dl-alpha tocopherol (synthetic vitamin E) antioxidant vitamin, often used in supplements not acceptable
EDTA antioxidant, sequestrant not acceptable
egg albumin whipping agent, emulsifier acceptable
Equal artificial sweetener not acceptable
erythorbic acid antioxidant acceptable
erythritol (sugar alcohol) sweetener acceptable
ethoxyquin pesticide, often used as a preservative in livestock/animal feed not acceptable
ethyl vanillin flavoring agent not acceptable
ethylene oxide fumigant, disinfecting agent not acceptable
ethylhexylglycerin preservative, deodorant not acceptable in body care or food
ferrous gluconate colorant for ripe olives acceptable
fructose sweetener acceptable
gelatin gelling agent, animal based acceptable
gellan gum thickener, stabilizer, emulsifier acceptable
glucono delta-lactone acidulant, leavening agent acceptable
glycereth-7 cocoate humectant not acceptable in body care or food
glycerin humectant, flavor and color solvent acceptable
GMP (disodium guanylate) flavor enhancer not acceptable
guar gum thickener, stabilizer acceptable
hepta-esters of sucrose fat substitute not acceptable
hexa-esters of sucrose fat substitute not acceptable
high fructose corn syrup sweetener not acceptable
hydrogenated oil liquid oils chemically treated to become solid fats: used to prolong shelf-life, provide texture not acceptable
hydrolyzed vegetable protein flavor enhancer acceptable
IMP (disodium inosinate) flavor enhancer not acceptable
invert sugar sweetener acceptable
irradiated foods sterilized by high energy radiation not acceptable
isoceteth 20 emulsifier, surfactant not acceptable in body care or food
isolated soy protein nutrient, filler, binder acceptable
isopropyl palmitate emollient not acceptable in body care or food
karaya gum emulsifier, stabilizer acceptable
lactic acid acidulant acceptable
lactose (milk sugar) humectant, sweetener acceptable
lactylated esters of mono and diglycerides emulsifier not acceptable
lauramide MEA surfactant/detergent not acceptable in body care or food
lauryl DEA (lauramide DEA) surfactant/detergent not acceptable in body care or food
lecithin emulsifier acceptable
levulose (also known as fructose) sweetener acceptable
locust bean gum thickener, stabilizer acceptable
Luo han guo (Monk fruit) sweetener acceptable
magnesium carbonate alkali, anti-caking agent acceptable
magnesium chloride firming agent, color retention agent acceptable
magnesium stearate lubricant, binder, anti-caking acceptable
malic acid buffering agent, flavoring additive acceptable
malitol (sugar alcohol) sweetener acceptable
malt extract flavoring agent, texturizer in meat acceptable
maltodextrin texturizer, flavor enhancer acceptable
maltose sweetener acceptable
mannitol (sugar alcohol) sweetener, texturizer acceptable
methoxycinnamate sunscreen not acceptable in body care or food
methyl silicon antifoaming, antisplattering agent not acceptable
methylparaben preservative not acceptable
microcrystalline cellulose filler, binder, stabilizer, anti-caking agent acceptable
microparticularized whey protein fat substitute not acceptable
modified food starch thickener, stabilizer acceptable
mono and triglycerides emulsifier acceptable
monosodium glutamate (MSG) 2 flavor enhancer not acceptable
natamyacin mold inhibitor acceptable on cheese rinds and sausage casings
neotame artificial sweetener not acceptable
nitrates/nitrites antioxidant, flavor, color retention agent not acceptable
NutraSweet artificial sweetener not acceptable
olefin sulfonate surfactant/detergent not acceptable in body care or food
oleoresin paprika seasoning, colorant acceptable
Olestra fat substitute not acceptable
oleyl betaine surfactant/detergent not acceptable in body care or food
palm fruit oil emulsifier, fat acceptable
palm kernel oil emulsifier, fat acceptable
papain tenderizer acceptable
parabens (methyl, propyl, butyl, etc.) preservative not acceptable in body care or food
partially hydrogenated oil (source of trans fats) liquid oils chemically treated to become solid fats: used to prolong shelf-life, provide texture not acceptable
pectin gelling agent, stabilizer, thickener acceptable
PEG-150 distearate surfactant/detergent not acceptable in body care or food
PEG-7 glyceryl cocoate surfactant/detergent not acceptable in body care or food
phosphoric acid acidulant acceptable
polydextrose artificial sweetener not acceptable
polyquaternium 10 disinfectant not acceptable in body care or food
polysorbate 60, 65, or 80 emulsifier acceptable
potassium acid tartrate leavening agent, acidulant acceptable
potassium benzoate preservative not acceptable
potassium benzoate preservative in liquid supplements acceptable
potassium bicarbonate leavening agent, alkali acceptable
potassium bisulfite (see also potassium metabisulfite & sulfites) preservative, antioxidant, color retention agent not acceptable
potassium bromate dough conditioner, flour maturing agent not acceptable
potassium chloride salt substitute acceptable
potassium gluconate buffering agent acceptable
potassium metabisulfite (see also potassium bisulfite & sulfites) preservative, antioxidant, color retention agent not acceptable
potassium sorbate preservative in liquid supplements acceptable for supplements
propionates preservative not acceptable
propyl gallate antioxidant not acceptable
propylene glycol humectant, flavor solvent not acceptable
propylparaben preservative not acceptable
quinine alkaloid in tonic water (and other acceptable FDA uses) acceptable
rBGH (recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone) genetically modified growth hormone used to increase milk production in cows not acceptable
saccharin artificial sweetener not acceptable
silicon dioxide anti-caking agent acceptable
Simplesse fat substitute not acceptable
smoke flavoring (natural) flavoring agent acceptable
sodium acid pyrophosphate leavening agent, buffer acceptable
sodium alginate thickener, stabilizer, emulsifier acceptable
sodium aluminum phosphate leavening agent not acceptable
sodium aluminum sulfate leavening agent not acceptable
sodium ascorbate antioxidant acceptable
sodium benzoate preservative in liquid supplements and non food items acceptable
sodium bicarbonate leavening agent, buffering agent acceptable
sodium bisulfite preservative, antioxidant, color retention agent not acceptable
sodium caseinate (milk protein) texturizer, emulsifier acceptable
sodium citrate buffering agent, emulsifier acceptable
sodium cocoyl sarcosinate conditioner not acceptable in body care or food
sodium diacetate preservative not acceptable
sodium erythorbate antioxidant acceptable
sodium glutamate flavor enhancer (see MSG) not acceptable
sodium hydroxide alkali acceptable
sodium hydroxymethylglycinate preservative not acceptable in body care or food
sodium laureth sulfate surfactant/detergent not acceptable in body care or food
sodium lauroyl sarcosinate surfactant/detergent not acceptable in body care or food
sodium lauryl carboxylate foaming agent not acceptable in body care or food
sodium lauryl sulfate surfactant, detergent not acceptable in body care or food, with exceptions 5
sodium lauryl sulfoacetate surfactant, detergent not acceptable in body care or food
sodium metabisulfite preservative, antioxidant, color retention agent not acceptable
sodium myreth sulfate surfactant/detergent not acceptable in body care or food
sodium nitrate/nitrite antioxidant, flavor, color retention agent not acceptable
sodium PCA (Na PCA) pyrrolidone carbonic acid conditioner not acceptable in body care or food
sodium phosphate buffering agent, emulsifier, protein stabilizer acceptable
sodium propionate preservative, antimycotic agent not acceptable
sodium pyrophosphate emulsifier, texturizer, sequesterant acceptable
sodium stearoyl-2-lactylate dough conditioner, emulsifier, whipping agent not acceptable
sodium sulfite preservative, antioxidant not acceptable
sodium tripolyphosate 3 binding agent not acceptable
solvent extracted oils (as stand alone ingredient) cooking oils not acceptable
sorbic acid preservative, antimycotic agent not acceptable
sorbitol (sugar alcohol) sweetener acceptable
soy protein isolates protein source acceptable
soyamidopropalkonium chloride antistatic agent not acceptable in body care or food
stearamidopropyl dimethyl amine conditioner not acceptable in body care or food
stevia (rebiana) sweetener acceptable
sucralose (splenda) artificial sweetener not acceptable
sucroglycerides preservative, emulsifier not acceptable
sucrose polyester (olestra) fat substitute not acceptable
sulfites 4 (sulfur dioxide) (see also potassium bisulfite & potassium metabisulfite) preservative, antioxidant, color retention agent acceptable in non-organic wine and hard cider
Sweet-n-Low artificial sweetener not acceptable
talc gliadant, additive not acceptable in body care or food
tartaric acid acidulant acceptable
TBHQ (tertiary butyl hydroquinone) antioxidant not acceptable
tetrasodium EDTA antioxidant, preservative not acceptable
texturized vegetable protein (TVP) vegan meat substitute, often made from soy acceptable
titanium dioxide coloring agent under review
tocopherols (vitamin E) antioxidant acceptable (if not synthetic)
tragacanth gum emulsifier, stabilizer acceptable
triclosan synthetic antibacterial not acceptable
truvia sweetener acceptable
vanillin flavoring agent not acceptable
vegetable gums thickener, stabilizer, emulsifier acceptable
xanthan gum thickener, stabilizer, emulsifier acceptable
xylitol (sugar alcohol) sweetener acceptable
  1. Astaxanthin in its natural form is the antioxidant that gives wild salmon its color.
  2. Both MSG and autolyzed yeast extract are used as flavor enhancers, and both contain the amino acid glutamate. Glutamate is one of 20 amino acids found widely in all foods at varying levels. Glutamate seems to cause reactions in people when it is isolated and in high concentrations.

    MSG is 100 percent glutamate that has been isolated and then bound to sodium to make a salt that can be added to foods.

    Autolyzed yeast extract contains a mix of free amino acids (including glutamate) but since it's not 100 percent glutamate it does not cause reactions in most people who are sensitive to MSG, other than a few who are extremely sensitive.
  3. Sodium tripolyphosate is used to prevent "thaw drip" and as a binding agent to hold flaky fish products together. It's common in scallops and shrimp. It is a suspected neurotoxin.
  4. Sulfites can be naturally occurring as a byproduct of fermentation in wine and wine products, such as vinegar. Added sulfites may be allowed in non-organic wine and hard cider.
  5. Exceptions include Tom's of Maine and Auromere toothpastes.