What Does It Mean When You Buy ‘Natural’ Food? (Hint: Nothing)

There’s a misleading trend among food manufacturers that has been going on for a while now: they label foods as “natural,” when really, it means nothing.

There’s a disturbing and misleading trend among food manufacturers that has been going on for a while now: they label foods as “natural,” when actually, natural has no real definition by the FDA.

That’s right. You might think it mights mean that this food or product is one step down from organic, but that’s simply not the case.

According to the USDA, in order to label any product or food as organic, there are strict standards that must be met. Organic farmers, ranchers, and food processors must preserve natural resources and biodiversity, support animal health and welfare, provide access to the outdoors so that animals can exercise their natural behaviors, and only use approved materials.

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are not allowed, and it is required to have an annual onsite inspection.

Recommended: FDA Cooking Up Helpful New Nutrition Facts Label

On the other hand, there are little to no guidelines on rules and regulations for a food manufacturer or farmer to say that their product is “natural.”

USA Today reports, “The FDA does not formally define the word, meaning its use isn't regulated by any law. A ‘longstanding policy’ interprets it to mean nothing artificial or synthetic has been added to a food that wouldn't normally be expected in that food, according to the FDA website. But the policy isn't intended to address food production, processing or manufacturing methods.”

There you have it, folks! You might think you’re shopping smarter by buying all these natural foods, but in fact, you’re just buying a label.

"From a food-science perspective, it is difficult to define a food product that is 'natural' because the food has probably been processed in some way," says Lauren Kotwicki, a spokeswoman for the FDA told USA Today.

In short, it's about as misleading as the #Natural hashtag those Instagram beauties use. 

C'est la vie!

Banner Image Credit: U.S. Department Of Agriculture/Flickr

Carbonated.TV
View Comments

Recommended For You