Why Are “All Natural” Labels Disappearing From Many Popular Foods?
This past summer, Care2 brought you the story of Naked Juice:
Naked Juice, a subsidiary of Pepsi Co., recently settled a lawsuit alleging that it falsely advertised some of its juice and smoothie products as all natural¯ and not genetically modified.
While the company officially maintains its innocence, it has established a $9 million settlement fund for consumers who feel that they were duped by this marketing scam.
The sad thing is that, instead of removing GMOs and any other nasty ingredients, companies have responded by getting rid of the “All Natural” label entirely.
As an informed consumer, you’ve probably been checking on your favorite products to see if they are Fair Trade Certified, meaning that the farmers and farm workers in developing nations have received a fair price for their product, they encourage sustainable farming methods, limit the use of pesticides and do not use forced child labor. You may also want to know about deforestation — like how many trees were cut down in Central America to produce your hamburger.
These are important considerations, but there are more.
The Wall Street Journal reports that:
A growing number of food and drink companies including PepsiCo Inc. are quietly removing these claims from packages amid lawsuits challenging the naturalness of everything from potato chips to ice cream to granola bars.
Food labeled “natural” raked in more than $40 billion in U.S. retail sales over the past 12 months. That is second only to food claiming to be low in fat, according to Nielsen. A survey last year by Mintel another market research company, found 51% of Americans seek out natural¯ when food shopping.
The problem is that “natural” has no clear meaning.
The Food and Drug Administration has no definition, says a spokeswoman, but rather a long-standing policy that it considers “natural” to mean that “nothing artificial or synthetic (including all color additives regardless of source) has been included in, or has been added to, a food that would not normally be expected to be in the food.”
The agency’s website says it is “difficult to define a food product that is ‘natural’ because the food has probably been processed and is no longer the product of the earth.”
These food manufacturers are changing their packaging largely because they contain GMOs. The lawsuits are making it not worth it for companies to label foods all natural. These are the same companies that are saying that it would be expensive to change their packaging if they were required to label GMOs and they’d have to pass that expense on to consumers.
Now that companies are removing the “all natural” label from packaging, how are we consumers to understand what’s in our food?
Here’s my solution:
What we really need is a bar code that we can scan with our smartphones. It would give us a rating for everything we eat, by telling us what the product contains that is good and healthy and what’s not: transfats, sugar, salt, you get the idea. Maybe a grade, a red dot or a number, instead of all that confusing tiny print.
What do you think?
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