The Food and Drug Administration does not define or regulate use of the words “natural or “all natural.” Neither has any nutritional meaning.
That’s a big deal becuase “natural” is the most frequently used claim on new U.S. food products and “natural” foods constituted a roughly $22 billion industry in 2008, according to a July 2012 George Washington Law School essay by Erik Benny.
Says the FDA:
“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. That said, FDA has not developed a definition for use of the term natural or its derivatives.
“However, the agency has not objected to the use of the term if the food does not contain added color, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances.”
“Organic foods are natural by definition. The term.’natural’ applies broadly to foods that are mininaly processed and free of synthetic preservatives, artificial sweeteners, colors, flavors and other artificial additives; grow hormones, antibiotics, hydrogenated oils, stabilizers and emulsifiers.
“Most foods labeled natural are not subject to government controls beyond the regulations and health codes that apply to all foods.
“Exceptions include meat and poultry. The Food Safety and Inspection Service of the U .S.Department of Agriculture requires these to be free of artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, preservatives and ingredients that do not occur naturally in the food.”
Benny concludes that the FDA should “define ‘natural’ in a way that comports with the USDA definitions of ‘naturally raised’ and ‘natural.’ ”
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