Currently, the FDA, which oversees food labeling, does not have a definition 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 flavor
- synthetic preservatives
- Supposedly is minimally processed.
The limited oversight of the term on labeling has caused much confusion in the market. Here’s a peek at the confusion. Surveys of consumer habits have shown:
- 45% of consumers think the “natural” label is regulated
- 33% of American adults think “organic” and “natural” are the same thing
- 31% of consumers think “natural” products are better for the environment
People often equate the term with health or animal welfare which isn’t the case based on lack of regulation and definitions. U.S. sales of food labeled “natural” total more than $40 billion annually; 62% of shoppers said they usually buy foods labeled “natural” which shows there is a great demand for better oversight and consumer understanding.
Ways to Buy Foods Clean Food
In the meantime, there are ways you can find “natural” foods on your grocery list. Take these five ways to the market with you:
- Visit local farmer’s markets
- Start a community garden
- Find a local co-op
- Shop for produce that is in season
- Read labels: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=koI1RJTgT3E
At the urging of food manufacturers and consumer groups, such as Consumer Reports, the FDA recently asked for comment on the use of the term “natural.’ In fact, none of those attributes mention above are necessarily true, because use of the word is not regulated. At least, not yet.