Ingredient Standards & Guidelines





This table is a brief summary of ingredients not allowed in product advertisements, or in  products displayed or sampled at Natural Products Expos. Additional details are below. 

*Section 8. THC Cannabinoids


To assure the quality of the Natural Products Expo brand and to help preserve the integrity and meaning of the term "NATURAL," New Hope Network has introduced a phased-in process that does not allow for specific artificial ingredients and/or ingredients deemed unsafe in foods, supplements and cosmetics promoted through advertisements or displayed or sampled at Natural Products Expos.

This effort represents our attempt to be responsive to the many comments, suggestions and concerns from industry manufacturers, distributors, brokers and retailers.

These Ingredient Standards & Guidelines are updated and refined over time, and exhibitors and advertisers will be are notified about any changes to these Ingredient Standards and Guidelines.

*Promotional materials and Literature may not contain prohibited products such as vapes or products containing prohibited ingredients.

As indicated in Section headings below, some ingredients fall under the heading of Standards and others under Guidelines.

STANDARDS: These are enforceable for all Expo exhibitors and advertisers. Ingredients listed under a Standards heading are prohibited.

GUIDELINES: These are recommendations not yet enforced. Ingredients listed under a Guidelines heading are allowable at this time, however, the use of ingredients listed as Acceptable is highly encouraged.

COMMENTS: Please submit all questions or comments to [email protected].

1. Sweeteners


The following sweeteners are artificial, do not occur in nature, and will not be allowed as ingredients in food/supplement products.

*E numbers are used in the European Union (EU) to designate additives that have been reviewed for safety and allowed in foods. They appear on the label of products sold in the EU.


Most polyol sweeteners (with the exception of erythritol) occur in nature, but in commercial practice they are obtained from hydrogenation of simple sugars to create the finished form. Therefore, these sweeteners, which are often used in low-carbohydrate, low-calorie or restricted-calorie products, should not be labeled as "natural." There are few low-calorie, natural alternatives to these sweeteners. They may be described as chemically identical to the product that occurs in nature, but it is misleading to label them as "natural," since hydrogenation is not a natural process.

The following natural sweeteners are available and compatible with natural foods and the natural and organic retail channel.

Acceptable natural sweeteners include:

  • Allulose†
  • Barley malt syrup 
  • Beet sugar† 
  • Cane sugar (vegetarians have concerns about sugar filtered through bone char) 
  • Dextrose*† 
  • Erythritol (polyol sweetener made from fermentation; available as certified organic) 
  • Evaporated cane juice 
  • Fructose*†
  • Fruit pastes (raisin, date) 
  • Glucose*† 
  • Honey 
  • Juice concentrates 
  • Lactose 
  • Maltodextrins*† 
  • Maltose 
  • Maple syrup 
  • Molasses 
  • Monk Fruit (Luo Han Guo)  
  • Rice syrup 
  • Stevia and steviosides 
  • Sucanat® 
  • Thaumatin 
  • Turbinado sugar 
  • Xylitol - with documentation ingredient is naturally sourced 

*Corn-based sweeteners are usually derived from genetically modified corn seed.

†Manufacturers should use non-GMO sources for these sweeteners.

2. Colorings


Natural foods should not contain any artificial colors. The FDA regulates the use of Food, Drug and Cosmetic (FD&C) colors that are intensely colored compounds for use in foods. These are considered certifiable colors.


Some non-certifiable colors, even though derived from natural sources, such as caramels and synthetic beta-carotene, should not be used in foods labeled as "all natural". Some caramel colorings are processed with sulfite and/or ammonia and should not be used in foods labeled as "all natural". Oleoresins may use synthetic solvents for their production.

Acceptable natural colorings include:

  • Annatto extract 
  • Aronia (chokeberry) juice 
  • Beet juice†
  • Beta-carotene from carrots 
  • Black currant juice 
  • Carrot juice, purple/black 
  • Elderberry juice 
  • Grape juice 
  • Grape skin extract 
  • Lycopene 
  • Paprika 
  • Purple potato juice 
  • Red radish juice 
  • Red cabbage juice 
  • Riboflavin 
  • Saffron 
  • Turmeric

†Manufacturers should use non-GMO sources for these colorings.

3. Flavors and Flavor Enhancers 


Natural foods should not contain any artificial flavorings. Any products labeled with artificial flavoring or natural and artificial flavoring are unacceptable. Many imported products may contain "nature-identical" flavorings, which are considered artificial in the United States. These are also not allowed. Allowed flavorings must be labeled as natural and must have certification from the flavor manufacturer that the flavoring is natural. It is recommended that the specification be reviewed and that all non-flavoring materials also should be natural as the FDA will certify flavorings as natural which contain synthetic non-flavoring ingredients.

Acceptable natural flavorings and flavor enhancers include:

  • Natural Flavors with no artificial non-flavoring ingredients 
  • Yeast† 
  • Salt

†Manufacturers should use non-GMO sources for flavors and flavor enhancers.

4. Preservatives 


The following ingredients are not allowed in foods or dietary supplements:

Artificial trans fats – primarily produced during the manufacturing process of hydrogenation which does not occur in nature

Partially Hydrogenated Oils (PHOs) – FDA no longer considers these generally recognized as safe (GRAS)


Natural foods should not contain any artificial preservatives. Microbiological preservatives are used in foods for microbiological stability and for color and flavor stability, such as preventing rancidity. Stability may be achieved using a combination of heat, low pH, lower moisture (or water activity) or other means.

Acceptable natural preservatives include:

  • Acetates 
  • Celery juice 
  • Citrates†
  • Citric acid†
  • Mixed tocopherols†
  • Natamycin 
  • Nisin

†Manufacturers should use non-GMO sources for preservatives.

5. Gums, Thickeners and Emulsifiers 


Natural foods should not contain any artificial gums, thickeners or emulsifiers. Gums and thickeners are used in foods to provide texture, increase viscosity and to help with dispersion and stability of ingredients within a food matrix. There are many chemically modified gums available that should not be used in natural foods. Emulsifiers are designed to help stability of oil/water matrices, such as in salad dressings. Many are derived from synthetic ingredients or sources.

Acceptable natural gums and thickeners include:

  • Agar 
  • Arrowroot 
  • Carrageenan 
  • Cellulose† (unmodified) 
  • Gellan gum 
  • Guar gum 
  • Gum Arabic 
  • Konjac flour 
  • Kudzu 
  • Pectin†
  • Pectins† 
  • Lecithin† (unbleached) 
  • Locust bean gum 
  • Native starches†—corn, tapioca, potato, wheat 
  • Salts of alginic acid (sodium, potassium, calcium alginate) 
  • Tragacanth 
  • Xanthan gum

†Manufacturers should use Non-GMO sources for gums, thickeners, and emulsifiers.

6. Bread Ingredients and Dough Conditioners 


Breads for the natural products industry should be made with unbleached flours and preferably with whole grain flours, wherever possible. In addition, there are many ingredients used in the baking industry that are synthetic and should not be used in natural products.

Acceptable Natural Bread Ingredients include:

  • Enzymes†
  • Unbleached flours

†Manufacturers should use Non-GMO sources for bread ingredients and dough conditioners.

7. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)


Products or substances/ingredients derived using the application of biotechnology* as defined in the New Hope lexicon. Pertains to plants, animals, fungi, microorganisms. 


Foods containing ingredients made with or sourced from genetically modified organisms or bioengineered ingredients may be acceptable for exhibit and advertisements, HOWEVER, they may not be labeled or promoted as “natural” or “all natural.” 


Products containing ingredients made with or sourced from genetically modified materials or bioengineered ingredients should include a statement of source for transparency.

8. THC Cannabinoids 


Products may not contain more than 0.3% THC (delta-9). Products may not include THC isolate as an ingredient. Products may not be marketed for psychoactive effect. THC declarations intended to increase transparency or comply with state laws are permitted only on the information panel on the product packaging.

9. Plant-Based


Foods with ingredients derived mostly from plants, including vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes and fruits, with no animal-derived ingredients.


Products containing animal-derived ingredients or nature-identical animal ingredients may not be labeled as "Plant-Based". However, specific ingredients may be identified on the packaging as plant-based, for instance, “plant-based bacon” or “plant-based protein”, etc.


Products labeled as “Plant-based” may contain ingredients derived from non-plants sources such as fungi or algae. Fungi and algae, although not technically plants, may be considered ingredients of plant origin and may be counted as plant ingredients for purposes of these Standards*. Products labeled as "Plant-Based" should not contain synthetically derived ingredients. Products containing these types of ingredients should include a statement of source for transparency.