Case Study

Certified Paleo Standards

Pendergrass, K. Eyer, K. (2024). Certified Paleo Standards 2024. The Paleo Foundation.
Karen Pendergrass ¹
June, 11, 2024

Certified Paleo Standards


Certified Paleo is a certification program that verifies the compliance of food and supplements with Paleo. Paleo is a diet is based on the idea of eating foods that our ancestors from the Paleolithic era would have consumed, such as meats, fish, vegetables, and fruits, and avoiding dairy, legumes, and grains. The certification program provides a standardized way of defining paleo-compliant foods, ensuring that consumers can trust the products they buy to align with their dietary choices.

Standardizing Paleo is necessary because there is no official governing body that defines what Paleo is, and this can lead to confusion and inconsistent interpretations. The Certified Paleo Standards help to establish a clear set of criteria for what is and is not considered paleo, making it easier for consumers to follow the diet and for food and supplement companies to produce compliant products.



Diet tolerability, Certified Paleo Standards, Dairy, Legumes, Grains, Pseudograins


In an evolving food landscape that has seen drastic changes over the past 10,000 years, Paleo seeks to emulate the presumed dietary habits of early humans—prior to the advent of agriculture. This diet predominantly includes meat, seafood, fruits, nuts, seeds, roots, and tubers. However, it eschews dairy, grains, and heavily processed foods. Given the theoretical nature of Paleo and the room for interpretational diversity, a standardized definition has been elusive. This has led to frequent debates within the Paleo community over specific food items and processing methods.

To address this gap, The Paleo Foundation has developed the Certified Paleo Standards. These standards are rigorously curated to align with the fundamental principles of Paleo while incorporating adaptations suitable for contemporary lifestyles. A significant emphasis in developing these standards has been to increase the diet’s tolerability, which is a pivotal factor for its acceptance and long-term adherence. Studies indicate that palatability, availability, affordability, and convenience are the main determinants for sustained dietary compliance, especially for those who are medically required to follow such diets.

Products that earn the Certified Paleo designation are strategically positioned to augment the diet’s tolerability. By meeting the stringent criteria outlined in the Certified Paleo Standards, these products not only comply with the foundational elements of Paleo but also enhance its practicability. They serve to diversify food choices, making it easier for individuals to adopt and maintain the diet, thereby aligning with The Paleo Foundation’s mission to improve the long-term success and tolerability of the diet.


1. Certification Standards

The “Certified Paleo” Requirements for Grain-Free, Legume-Free, Dairy-Free, Artificial Coloring, Artificial Preservatives, Artificial Sweeteners and Artificial Flavor Enhancers-Free Products are outlined herein. These standards apply to all products certified by The Paleo Foundation for the Certified Paleo Program. Only certified Products following these standards are explicitly given the rights to use Certified Paleo logos, trademarks, certification marks, or other design marks hereinafter referred to as “Certified Paleo label”.


1.1 Applicability. The Certified Paleo label was developed and trademarked by The Paleo Foundation to identify food products that meet the standards of Paleo. The Certified Paleo Label is a certification mark registered with the U.S. Trademark and Patent Office, and its use is only permitted by those who have entered into a contractual agreement with The Paleo Foundation. The Certified Paleo Label was designed to establish an easily identifiable mark indicating that a product has met the strictures of a Paleo template. Certified Paleo requirements may be amended periodically based on current research.


1.2 Certified Paleo Guidelines

1.2.1 Promotional Materials. The Certified Paleo label is allowed to be used on the packaging, promotional materials, point-of-purchase materials, websites, sales literature, banners, company stationery, and other advertising materials. Use of the Certified Paleo label must comply with the guidelines as outlined in this document. If a company wishes to present the logos in a manner other than as described in Statement of Use Guidelines, The Paleo Foundation must approve the request and give permission in writing to the Producer.

1.2.2 Display. Producers may display the Certified Paleo label only on certified products.

1.2.3 Agreement. Producers must have a contractual agreement with The Paleo Foundation to use the Certified Paleo label.

1.2.4 Stationary. Producers may only use the trademark on company stationery if the entire product line has been audited and Certified Paleo.

1.2.5 Logo Placement. Producers may display the Certified Paleo label on their entire website if the entire product line has been audited and Certified Paleo. If the entire product line was not certified, the Certified Paleo label may appear on a page containing the audited and certified products only.


Certified Paleo Standards Certification Mark U.S. Reg. No. 4767643







Clearly Visible










2. Grain-Free

2.0.1 Grains. All Products must not contain Grains or Pseudograins. Disallowed Grains include, but are not limited to:


Name Latin Name Type
Amaranth Amaranthus cruentus Pseudograin
Barley Hordeum vulgare Grain
Buckwheat Fagopyrum esculentum Pseudograin
Bulgur Triticum ssp. Grain
Corn Zea mays mays Grain
Farro Triticum spelta, Triticum dicoccum, Triticum monococcum Grain
Farro / Einkorn Triticum monococcum L Grain
Farro / Emmer Triticum turgidum dicoccum Grain
Farro / Spelt Triticum aestivum spelta Grain
Millet Panicum miliaceum, Pennisetum Glaucum, Setaria italica, eleusine coracana, digitaria exilis Pseudograin
Freekeh / Farik Triticum turgidum var. durum Grain
Durum Wheat Triticum durum or Triticum turgidum subsp. durum Grain
Khorasan Wheat Triticum turgidum turanicum Grain
Oats Avena sativa Grain
Quinoa Chenopodium quinoa Pseudograin
Kañiwa Chenopodium pallidicaule Pseudograin
Rice Oryza sativa, Oryza glaberrima Grain
Rye Secale cereale Grain
Sorghum Sorghum spp. Grain
Teff Eragrostis tef Grain


3. Legume-Free

3.0.1 Legumes. Certified Paleo Products must not contain legumes.  Arboreal Legumes and derivatives are an exception to this rule. Disallowed Legumes include but are not limited to:



Beans, Lentils, Peas, Peanuts, Soy and Soy derivatives, Tempeh, Lupin



4.0.1 Dairy. Products must not contain dairy products to be eligible. For the purpose of this definition, eggs are not considered “dairy ” products. This includes but is not limited to:



Cheeses, Milk, Milk Derivatives, Yogurts, Cream, Evaporated Milk, Caseinates


5. Artificial Ingredients

5.0.1 Artificial Ingredients. Products must not contain artificial ingredients. This includes but is not limited to:



Artificial Sweeteners

Flavor Enhancers

Coloring Derived from coal, tar, or petroleum; FD&C Blue No.1 , No.2; FD&C Green No. 3, FD&C Red No. 40; FD&C Yellow No. 5, No. 6

BHA and BHT, TBHQ, Hexamine, Tetramine, Sodium Ethyl Para hydroxybenzoate, Potassium Ferrocyanide

Aspartame, Potassium Acesulphame, Cyclamates, Neotame, Alcohol Sugars (with the exception of Birch Xylitol), Neotame Glutamates (such as MSG), Guanylates, Inosinates


6.0 Allowed Ingredients

6.0.1 Allowed ingredients. Allowed ingredients will be amended from time to time as necessary. These ingredients include, but are not limited to:





Herbivores must be grass-fed, forage-fed, and pastured. Omnivores should be pastured. Poultry must be cage-free.

Wild-Caught seafood, bivalves may be farmed.

All fruits are allowed. Dried Fruits, Fruit Juices, Berries.

Oils and Fats



Grass-fed and pastured tallow, lard, and ghee. All nut oils. Avocado Oil, Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, Medium-High Oleic Sunflower Oil, Cocoa mass, Cocoa butter, CBD oil

All nut flours are allowed. Sweet Potato flour, coconut flour, tapioca flour, cassava flour, arrowroot flour

All nut milks are allowed. Hemp Milk, Coconut Milk, Almond Milk, Cashew Milk.


Anti-Caking Agents

Fermented Foods

Wheatgrass powder, wheatgrass juice, lemongrass, Cane Juice, bamboo.

Silicon Dioxide, talc, calcium silicate

Distilled White Vinegar, Sauerkraut, Kimchi, Kombucha, Coconut Kefirs


Sweeteners Teas and Coffee

All true nuts and seeds are allowed including sunflower seeds, chia seeds, and mustard seeds.

Honey, stevia, maple syrup, coconut sugar, coconut sap, coconut nectar, date sugar, fruit juice, birch xylitol.

All fruits are allowed. Dried Fruits, Fruit Juices, and Berries.


Roots and Tubers


All vegetablesVegetable Juices, Sea vegetables, Seaweed, Algae, Agar

All roots and tubers, including White Potatoes.

All spices are allowed. Sea Salts, Smoked Salts, Salt blends.


6.0.2 Allowed Stabilizers and Natural Preservatives.

Allowed Stabilizers and Natural Preservatives

Xanthan GumPrebiotic Hydrocolloid Gums, guar um, agar, sunflower lecithin, tapioca starch, potato starch, arrowroot, egg-derived lecithin, lactic acid, citric acid, ascorbic acid,  Tapioca MaltodextrinGum Arabic.



The Certified Paleo Standards aim to codify the essential attributes of Paleofor the contemporary era. While Paleo seeks to mimic the pre-agricultural dietary habits, it has long suffered from a lack of standardization and definitional consensus. The standards address key considerations such as dietary tolerability, which is instrumental for long-term adherence.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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