FDA Wants You To Define ‘Natural’ on Food Labels

The word “natural” appears on a lot of products, but consumers are wising up to the fact that when it comes to food labels, it’s a meaningless word. Now the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) wants your help in coming up with a definition for “natural” on food labels.

The agency is seeking public comment in response to consumer requests and petitions asking the FDA to either define the term or eliminate it on food labels. In the announcement, the FDA noted that some Federal courts have requested administrative determinations regarding whether food products containing ingredients produced using genetic engineering or foods containing high fructose corn syrup may be labeled as natural.

Marketers conjure up an image by using the word natural in conjunction with natural colors and graphics. Even savvy shoppers can get caught up in the illusion.

A 2014 Consumer Reports survey found that almost 60 percent of shoppers look for the word natural when buying food, and about two-thirds think it means there are no artificial ingredients, pesticides, or genetically modified organisms. According to the FDA website, it’s more complicated than that:

“The FDA has considered the term ‘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 that food. However, this policy was not intended to address food production methods, such as the use of pesticides, nor did it explicitly address food processing or manufacturing methods, such as thermal technologies, pasteurization, or irradiation. The FDA also did not consider whether the term ‘natural’ should describe any nutritional or other health benefit.”

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The FDA is seeking opinions on whether it’s appropriate to define the term natural and, if so, how should it be defined. The agency also wants input as to how it should determine appropriate use of the word on food labels.

Want to make your voice heard? Comments can be made electronically or via regular mail until February 10, 2016. For more information visit the Federal Register.

Related Reading
Why the ‘All Natural’ Food Label Can Be False Advertising
Greenwashed ‘Organic’ & ‘Natural’ Food Labels
We’re Wasting Food & Money By Misreading These Labels

Main Post Photo: Jupiterimages/PHOTOS.com>>/Thinkstock
100% Natural: Aquir/iStock/Thinkstock

55 comments

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Nikki Davey
Nikki Davey3 years ago

Natural should be exactly that - nit needing a chemistry degree to understand the ingredients!

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Aaron Bouchard
Aaron Bouchard3 years ago

thank you

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Aaron Bouchard
Aaron Bouchard3 years ago

thank you

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Aaron Bouchard
Aaron Bouchard3 years ago

thank you

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Aaron Bouchard
Aaron Bouchard3 years ago

thank you

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Aaron Bouchard
Aaron Bouchard3 years ago

thank you

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Aaron Bouchard
Aaron Bouchard3 years ago

thank you

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Aaron Bouchard
Aaron Bouchard3 years ago

thank you

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Christie C.
Christie C3 years ago

Products that contain any ingredients that are GMO, are monocultures, require the use of synthetics, destroy biodiversity, overuse water supplies, or require invasive, synthetic techniques should not be allowed to be sold as natural.

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