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Why Are “All Natural” Labels Disappearing From Many Popular Foods?

Why Are “All Natural” Labels Disappearing From Many Popular Foods?

Perhaps you’ve noticed that “All Natural” has been disappearing from supermarket shelves. That’s because over 100 companies have been sued for using the label incorrectly.

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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Photo Credit: Thinkstock

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294 comments

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3:23AM PDT on May 22, 2014

Thank you

4:43AM PST on Nov 25, 2013

thanks

8:35AM PST on Nov 23, 2013

KYLE N: For shame, for shame. You've neglected to answer the questions that I asked you in my Post of 12:44 pm PST on Nov 21, 2013 and yet you've taken on Non-GMOs. For shame.
Don and I CAN! :-))

8:28AM PST on Nov 23, 2013

KYLE N:

1st, you lost the battle to common sense on NATURAL and now you are taking on GMO's in the same irresponsible way.

2nd, your Posts are about as in intelligent, informative and educational as your home page.

3rd, if you really and truly feel that there is no difference between GMO's and Non-GMO's, buy two (2) small (or any size you desire) corn plants - one (1) GMO and the other Non-GMO - and place each (whole thing) into a quart of "Round Up", colored red with food dye. Post the results after one (1) day, one (1) week and two (2) weeks. Also Post the color of the corn on the cob itself as the plant matures.

4th, drink the remaining liquid in the plant that does not die. After all, if the liquid did not kill the plant - who's product you are going to eat - what harm can it do to you? Don and I CAN! :-))

7:08AM PST on Nov 23, 2013

Kyle. Without labels, how would you know what you are buying? Grocery mystery cans? Also, GMOs are not made up. They exist.

4:25AM PST on Nov 23, 2013

Very true Shawn P. The consumer does have a right to know precisely what is in the food that is sold. Labelling is required for true freedom of choice in purchasing. Many would not buy the veggies, etc., if they knew which foods are GMO. Denying the label is denying the freedom of choice for those not purchasing organic, especially those on low income who often can't afford it.

Having a different view doesn't make one a troll. He just might support Pepsi because he drinks the stuff...or he could simply be a right wing tea bagger, many of them don't even believe in global warming...it's all a 'liberal plot,' and many believe that labelling is a joke because they listened to Monsanto propaganda as they/others spent millions trying to prevent California from labelling GMO. Obviously his science knowledge is sadly lacking if he believes that there is no difference between GMO food and real food. Bar codes for smart phones is interesting but sadly, there are many people not able to afford a smart phone. Europe has the right idea, label GMO.

4:10AM PST on Nov 23, 2013

Do you happen to work for PepsiCo Kyle? or are you just a troll? Labeling our food is so important! We all have a right to know exactly where are food comes from and what is in it.

1:27AM PST on Nov 23, 2013

I do support Pepsi. There is no reason for GMO labeling, it is purely a Joke! There is no difference between GMO and Non GMO. Labeling is a waste of money, no point to it. It will just cost the consumer more to buy all products.

6:40PM PST on Nov 21, 2013

Thanks really scary.

3:37PM PST on Nov 21, 2013

The ingredient and details must be clear and natural.

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