PCC Community Markets Quality Standards

As the nation’s largest consumer-owned retail grocer, PCC Community Markets sets the highest food quality standards and champions transparency. Since 1953, we’ve kept our promise as a gatekeeper for good food choices you can trust. We’re owned by the people who shop our stores — not faraway shareholders or venture capitalists — so we ask a lot of questions before products are approved for sale. Here’s what we look for and why.

FOOD INGREDIENTS

Every food in our stores is screened against criteria based on feedback from shoppers like you and evaluated by our team of Quality Standards experts. We don’t allow harmful artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, sweeteners, products of nanotechnology or synthetic biology, or hundreds of other ingredients found in foods at other markets. We have specific standards to avoid labor abuses in the seafood, chocolate, banana, and coffee industries where human trafficking and slavery are known to exist. New items with ingredients that are high-risk for being genetically engineered (GE) must be organic or Non-GMO Project Verified. If a company cannot provide confirmation, PCC will not carry the product. See our list of acceptable and unacceptable ingredients for food. See our list of acceptable and unacceptable ingredients for supplements and body care products.

FRESH PRODUCE STANDARDS

95 percent of the produce at PCC is certified organic, supporting healthful choices for people and a healthier environment. Organic practices protect farmworkers, bees and waterways from harmful pesticides and ensure transparency in how foods are grown. PCC gives preference to produce that is both organic and locally grown, whenever possible.

For more about why organic standards are central to PCC’s mission, see:

MEAT, POULTRY & ANIMAL WELFARE STANDARDS

All our fresh beef, chicken, pork and turkey is certified organic or Non-GMO Project Verified. All animals are raised on pasture, open range, or have access outdoors (poultry) and without antibiotics or added hormones. We also believe we have a responsibility to see that all livestock are raised humanely, free of pain, fear and psychological stress, and can express natural behaviors. We believe the way humans treat farm animals is integral to our own general well-being and the health of our planet.

Read PCC’s animal welfare standards.

See our advocacy for animal welfare in organic standards.

DAIRY STANDARDS

All of PCC’s fresh milk is certified organic or from cows raised on non-GMO feed. Choices include a Certified 100% Grass Fed and Animal Welfare Approved brand with the highest standards in North America. But all our milk farmers raise their cows on pasture, without ionophores or other antibiotics endemic in the dairy industry. Several brands are from cows bred to produce A2 beta-casein, which some say makes dairy more digestible.

All of PCC’s dairy, including cheese and butter, is produced without the growth hormone, rBGH.

Read about our premiere organic, grass-fed, AWA approved brand.

See our advocacy against consolidation, antibiotics, label claims and more.

SEAFOOD STANDARDS

We can have healthy oceans and delicious seafood! All seafood at PCC meets the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch criteria for environmental sustainability. All our wild-caught seafood – fresh, frozen and canned – is from sustainable fisheries using methods that avoid bycatch and harm to the environment. The farmed trout and shellfish we sell are raised without antibiotics or pesticides, and never are dyed with artificial colors. Our quality standards include criteria for consumer health: we won’t sell seafood species known to be high in mercury or other contaminants.

BEER, WINE AND HARD CIDER STANDARDS

Our goal is to offer our customers beer, cider and wine from producers who farm and ferment with respect for the earth and the health of workers in the vineyards. While producers aren’t legally bound to list ingredients, we seek to do business with those who are transparent and use ingredients that uphold PCC standards.

SUPPLEMENTS AND BODY CARE STANDARDS

We believe that the ingredients in supplements and body care products are as important as ingredients in food, so we look for products that are safer for people and the environment, made from renewable ingredients and aren’t synthetic, are fairly traded, and produced without genetic engineering. We don’t allow hundreds of ingredients common in body care, such as parabens, petroleum compounds, phthalates or triclosan. None of our body care products are tested on animals.

FLOWER STANDARDS

We seek out flower vendors who are eager to transform the floral industry to a sustainable landscape. We’re happy to say we purchase directly from local flower growers as the seasons allow and from providers willing to verify sustainable growing practices.

CERTIFIED ORGANIC

All foods labeled and sold as organic in the United States must meet USDA Organic Standards to ensure they’re grown using practices that promote and enhance biodiversity, biological cycles, soil vitality, and animal welfare. Organic methods restore and enhance ecological harmony without toxic pesticides or fertilizers, genetic engineering, sewage sludge, or irradiation. Whether grown abroad or in the United States, they must follow the same rules and standards to bear the organic claim.

PCC IS A CERTIFIED ORGANIC RETAILER

PCC Community Markets has chosen voluntarily to be a certified organic retailer. This means we developed and implemented procedures to ensure organic product integrity is maintained when staff handles organic foods — preparing, wrapping, cutting or otherwise getting foods ready for sale. Agents from the Washington State Department of Agriculture inspect our procedures annually and audit our record-keeping to ensure product integrity is verifiable.

GENETIC ENGINEERING TRANSPARENCY

We pledged to identify genetically engineered (GE) foods in our stores by 2018 and are thrilled that we’ve made very good progress. Our buyers have been turning away new items with high-risk GE ingredients, such as corn or sugar, unless they’re certified organic or Non-GMO Project Verified. We also have a staff member on the Non-GMO Project board, to maintain strong labeling standards in the food industry until we have mandatory labeling nationwide.

PRODUCTS FROM CHINA

Consumer skepticism about foods from China generally involves concern about contaminated soil and water, and lax oversight on food safety and quality standards. Is PCC skeptical about the integrity and safety of food products from China? The answer is a qualified “yes.” While there have been a number of well-publicized recalls of Chinese imports, none of them involved organic foods. PCC sells no fresh produce from China and very limited frozen produce from China — and all of it is certified organic.

It’s likely there are Chinese ingredients in many multi-ingredient foods in our stores. But since the U.S. Country of Origin labeling law was repealed by the House of Representatives in 2015 (after a trade dispute at the World Trade Organization), traceability of foods from China has become very difficult. The Senate indicated it would consider introducing rules for voluntary country of origin claims but no bill has been introduced. So, regretfully, we don’t always have the product information we want.

PCC has advocated and supported country of origin labeling for many years.