FDA requests comment on use of “natural” on food labels

Recent years have brought lots of litigation about food products that are labeled as "all natural" but contain highly processed or "unnatural" ingredients. Dating back much further, the Food and drug Administration has long acknowledged the confusing and even misleading use of the term, but until today, the agency had not used its regulatory authority to define what it means for a food to be "all natural." Today, the FDA announced:

Because of the changing landscape of food ingredients and production, and in direct response to consumers who have requested that the FDA explore the use of the term “natural,” the agency is asking the public to provide information and comments on the use of this term in the labeling of human food products. ….

Although the FDA has not engaged in rulemaking to establish a formal definition for the term “natural,” we do have a longstanding policy concerning the use of “natural” in human food labeling. 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.

Specifically, the FDA asks for information and public comment on questions such as:

  • Whether it is appropriate to define the term “natural,”
  • If so, how the agency should define “natural,” and
  • How the agency should determine appropriate use of the term on food labels.

The FDA's request for comments is here.


0 thoughts on “FDA requests comment on use of “natural” on food labels

  1. Janice I. Beers says:

    The word natural should not be permitted on any food labels. It is meaningless.
    It has been used on so many products for so long without being defined that it can mean anything or nothing at all. I ignore it wherever I see it.

  2. Martha Martin says:

    the word natural should be scrapped for food labels, because processing food for sale uses actions that are not ‘natural’.
    Food labels should include ‘contains GMO material’ if GMOs in food. Changing the food cells using GMO technology may cause new allergies from the food itself, or may pass on pesticide residues from the agricultural production. Pesticides poison living things and may harm humans. Humans cannot know whether GMOs are harming them if humans do not know if they are eating them. Sometimes damages to health do not show up right away and only long term records can discover harm and what causes it. The health dangers of smoking took years to understand.

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