What Does "Natural" Mean?


As a member of the Green Business Network, we want to bring an important matter to your attention.

We have added our voice to the conversation to advance safe, healthy food, and hope you will to by Taking Action now.

The "natural" food products industry has exploded—bringing in both authentic green businesses striving for high standards, and greenwashing companies that slap the label "natural" on anything.

What does "natural" mean? Nothing at all, since the FDA has no definition of the term. But now we have a chance to change that.

For the first time ever, the FDA is accepting comments on what the term "natural" should mean in food labeling. The FDA needs to hear from you by May 10.

"Natural" products can contain ingredients like high fructose corn syrup and GMOs. They can be produced with toxic chemicals and pesticides, and still be called "natural." Meat, dairy, and poultry produced with antibiotics and GM feed can also be called "natural."

But do consumers understand this? No. They're significantly confused by "natural" products.

Nearly half of consumers think "natural" is regulated by the government and similar to organic. And two-thirds expect that "natural" foods follow the organic standard in being 95% free from synthetic additives.1

Many consumers seek out foods labeled as "natural" or "all natural," believing that these products are healthier than others. Major food companies take advantage of this by putting the word "natural" on products made with additives and GMOs. This abuse of the "natural" label has diluted the ability of "natural" foods to stand for anything.

We need a clearly defined and appropriate "natural" standard to ensure that consumers are not misled, and sustainable businesses can continue to lead the way in creating a just and transparent food system.

1 Reference: 2015 NMI Study



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