Frontier Co-op FAQs
Frontier Co-op FAQs
If you need help navigating or ordering from this site, you can call Online Customer Assistance during business hours (8am - 5pm CT, Monday - Friday) at 800-669-3275. We've answered some of the most frequently asked questions below. If you don't see the information you're looking for, you can email Customer Care.
Q: What allergens are present in your facility?
A: We manufacture some products within our facility with ingredients that contain allergens. When ingredients with allergens first arrive at our facility, we are careful to identify them, tag them and isolate them in storage. When we process products that have any of these ingredients, we do a special cleanup afterwards to prevent the allergens from carrying over to subsequent processing. We provide full disclosure of all ingredients on our labels, so you can check there for any allergens you wish to avoid.
Q: How much caffeine is in your tea?
A: The caffeine content of tea varies depending on a number of factors, including the variety and age of the leaves, the size of the leaves, the environment where they were grown, and the method of steeping. Generally speaking, the longer a tea is steeped, the higher its caffeine content. Because black tea is often steeped longer than green or white, it's considered to have the most caffeine — even though the dry leaves of black teas aren't higher in caffeine than those of green teas. The general range is 15 to 70 mg of caffeine per cup.
Q: Is your facility gluten-free?
A: While spices and herbs are naturally gluten-free, we do not test for gluten in all products, only those certified gluten-free (by GFCO) under our Simply Organic brand. We don't make gluten-free claims for any other products because even tiny amounts of gluten can be a problem, and these may be present in our facility or the facilities of our suppliers.
Q: Do Frontier products contain any genetically modified ingredients (GMOs)?
A: We no longer receive or produce any products in our Food and Flavorings division with GMO ingredients or GMO-suspect ingredients, and all finished goods are free of GMO ingredients and suspected GMO ingredients.
Q: What does kosher certified mean?
A: In order for a product to be kosher certified, a kosher certification company must inspect the production process from start to finish, checking every container and all conveying, processing and packaging machinery to ensure that nothing non-kosher can get into the food.
Q: Are your products kosher?
A: Most Frontier spices and seasonings are kosher. This information is on product labels and is also accessible online on each item information page.
Q: Why don't you provide any information about the medicinal uses of herbs?
A: In a nutshell, because it's against the law. There are strict Federal regulations prohibiting any herb supplier from making health claims for their products. Our practices comply with those FDA and FTC regulations and follow the recommendations of the American Herbal Products Association.
Q: Do your products contain MSG?
A: We do not add monosodium glutamate (MSG) to any of our products. FDA regulations require that if MSG is added to a product it must be identified as monosodium glutamate on the label. Some of our ingredients may contain some naturally occurring glutamic acid, which can combine with sodium present in the product to naturally form MSG. While the FDA classifies MSG and glutamic acid as generally safe, people who are sensitive to MSG and glutamic acid may suffer from adverse reactions.
Q: Where can I find nutritional information for your products?
A: All of the food products and dietary supplements that we sell that have reportable nutrients (amounts significant enough to warrant reporting according to FDA food labeling regulations) will feature a Nutrition Facts Panel or Supplement Facts Panel on each item information web page. (See the reportable nutrients FAQ for more info.)
Q: Why isn’t there nutritional information on most spices?
A: Most of our single ingredient spices (that is, basil, fennel, cumin, etc.) don't contain any reportable nutrients. Reportable nutrients are amounts significant enough to warrant reporting according to FDA food labeling regulations. (See the reportable nutrients FAQ for more info.)
Q: How are your products processed?
A: We do not regulate the methods our suppliers use to grow, harvest, and process the products we purchase from them. Processing may vary from crop to crop and amongst suppliers. The way in which a suppliers process their crops is often considered proprietary. They determine the best method to produce a high quality product. Our Quality Assurance department has researched and developed a set of specifications for each product that we offer, and we ensure all products meet those specs with a comprehensive quality program.
Q: What are reportable nutrients?
A: FDA food labeling regulations (21CFR101) exempt nutrient listings for foods that contain insignificant amounts of all of the nutrients and food components in the standard declaration of nutrition information. (An insignificant amount of a nutrient is defined as the amount that would show a zero in the nutrition labeling, or "less than 1 gram'' in the case of total carbohydrate, dietary fiber, and protein.) Since the nutrient levels are based on the amount customarily consumed by a person at one "eating occasion" (defined by the FDA as 1/4 teaspoon), most spices do not meet the threshold of having reportable nutrients.
Q: How can I tell if my herbs and spices are still good?
A: The potency of botanical products fades over time at different rates. Grinding exposes more surface area to the air, so ground spices lose their freshness more quickly than whole spices. As you can see in the table below, different parts of the plant age differently as well.
Our bottled spices and blends are freshness dated — the date the product is best used by for maximum freshness is printed on the bottom of each bottle. Check that date for unopened products. For opened packaged products and bulk products, follow the guidelines below:
Whole herbs, spices and seasoning blends
Leaves and flowers — 1 to 2 years
Seeds and barks — 2 to 3 years
Roots — 3 years
Vanilla beans — 2 years
Others — 2 to 3 years
Ground herbs, spices and seasoning blends
Leaves — 1 year
Seeds and barks — 1 year
Roots — 2 years
Q: How long do teas stay good?
A: Teas stored in a cool, dry, airtight, opaque container should be good for up to a year.
Q: What does Frontier Co-op do to ensure it is providing high-quality herbs and spices to its customers?
A: Our 35 years as an industry leader in buying and maintaining high-quality botanical products illustrates both experience and commitment. Along with the ability of our expert purchasers to the best herbs and spices from around the world, we have four key components to our quality program:
- Our rigorous supplier compliance program requires that all suppliers meet strict requirements to do business with us.
- In-house inspections to exacting standards are done for each and every shipment of incoming material, including repeat shipments from the same vendor lot.
- Certificates of analyses are accepted only from certified vendors, who must pass stringent third-party audits.
- Extensive product testing, based on the specific quality standards of each individual product, is done to monitor quality at arrival and during processing, packaging and storage. Our expert quality control staff conducts microbiological, organoleptic, analytical chemistry and other tests in our modern in-house laboratory.
Q: What does "certified organic" mean?
A: "Certified organic" is a labeling term that denotes products produced under the authority of the Organic Foods Production Act. The act provides for a National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) that develops and recommends the standards for the National Organic Program (NOP) as administered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). A certified organic designation means that a state or private certification organization that is accredited by the USDA has verified that the product meets its strict organic standards. The certifier inspects the location where the organic product is produced and handled to ensure that all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards are being followed. Companies that handle or process organic food before it gets to the local supermarket or restaurant must also be certified and inspected annually to ensure continued compliance. (In order to maintain their accredited certifier status with the USDA, certifiers are required to conduct annual on-site inspections of all their clients.)
Q: Are organic products produced in other countries required to meet U.S. organic regulations?
A: Yes, all organic products sold as certified organic in the United States are required to follow the U.S. standards and be certified by a USDA-accredited certifier.
Q: What is organic agriculture?
A: In a nutshell, organic farming is the form of agriculture that relies on techniques such as crop rotation, green manure, compost and biological pest control to maintain soil productivity and control pests on a farm. Or in the words of the National Organics Standard Board, "Organic agriculture is an ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity. It is based on minimal use of off-farm inputs and on management practices that restore, maintain and enhance ecological harmony." More definitions and extensive resource links are available at the USDA's Organic Production and Organic Food: Information Access Tools. Further online resources on organics, sustainability, farm energy and alternative crops (including herbs) can be found in the list of Alternative Farming Systems Information Center (AFSIC) publications.
Q: Can you help me understand certain organic claims? For example, what is the difference between 100% Organic vs. Made with Organic?
A: Here are the basic USDA regulations for the four recognized types of organic claims: Products labeled "100 Percent Organic" must show an ingredients list, the name and address of the handler (bottler, distributor, importer, manufacturer, packer, processor, etc.) of the finished product, and the name/seal of the organic certifier. All ingredients must be certified organic (excluding water and salt). Products labeled "Organic" must contain at least 95 percent organic ingredients. The label must contain an ingredient list that identifies the organic, as well as the non-organic, ingredients in the product and the name of the organic certifier. A minimum of 95% of the ingredients (excluding water and salt) must be certified organic, and any non-organic ingredients used must be approved for use in an organic product by the USDA. Products labeled "Made with Organic (specified ingredients or food groups)" must contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients (excluding water and salt) and up to 30% non-organic agricultural ingredients or other ingredients approved for use in organic products by the USDA. The label must contain an ingredients list that identifies the organic, as well as the non-organic, ingredients in the product, along with the name of the organic certifier. If a product contains less than 70 percent organic ingredients, the product can specify organic ingredients only on the ingredient panel. The product cannot use the word "organic" on the principal display panel or display any organic certifier seals.
Q: Are organic foods more expensive than conventionally grown ones?
A: It's true that organic foods which have the same growing, harvesting, transportation and storage costs as conventional items usually have additional costs associated with stricter growing regulations of organic certification and smaller scale production that contribute to higher prices. This was dramatically the case when organics first came on the market. But the price gap is continually shrinking as increased demand for organics and a more robust organic supply chain are driving down the cost of organic foods, making them much more competitive with non-organic ones. Furthermore, many argue that from the perspective of the true cost of our food — factoring in all the indirect environmental and social costs of conventional food production, such as cleanup of polluted water, replacement of eroded soils, and costs of health care for farmers and their workers — organic foods are already less costly than those grown with synthetic chemicals.
Q: Is organic food healthier?
A: Organic farming techniques provide a safer, more sustainable environment for everyone — growers, consumers and all of us who share the world environment. There is substantial research suggesting links to cancer and other diseases from the synthetic insecticides, herbicides, fungicides and fertilizers used on non-organic crops. And the Organic Center provides links to numerous studies that suggest some organically produced foods may be more nutritious than non-organic ones as well.
Q: Are organic products completely free of pesticide residues?
A: The 1995 definition of organic production by the National Organics Standard Board notes that "Organic agriculture practices cannot ensure that products are completely free of residues; however, methods are used to minimize pollution from air, soil and waters." These methods include buffer zones between conventional and organic fields, a three-year waiting period before previously non-organic land can be used for organic crops, and placing organic products in storage on the higher shelves to avoid cross contamination from non-organic products. Products are tested by certification agencies for contamination in response to a complaint, to spot-check certain crops, or if there is any evidence of contamination. The principal guidelines for organic production require using materials and practices that enhance the ecological balance of natural systems and integrate farming into the whole ecology.