What Does “Natural” Really Mean? The FDA Wants to Hear from You!

The term “natural” may have many underlying connotations when it comes to the food products you buy. However, there is some excellent news for consumers! Now you can weigh in on what “natural” means to you, as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is seeking help from consumers.

The FDA is compiling comments from consumers in hopes of clarifying the term “natural” on future food product labels.

The FDA has received a wealth of public and federal outcry for better defining the term “natural” in association with food labeling. Citizen petitions have have asked the FDA to define or remove the term “natural” entirely from future food product labels. Federal courts have also asked the FDA to examine the use of “natural” for products containing genetically modified ingredients and high fructose corn syrup.

“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,” the FDA announced earlier this month in an official news release.

The FDA has not discerned the meaning of “natural” quite yet, and they are still mulling over its link to nutritional food products, or products that offer health benefits.

natural stampSo what does “natural” actually mean when it comes to our food? Right now there is not much substance to the definition. According to a 2014 food label survey conducted by Consumer Reports: “Nearly two-thirds of U.S. consumers are misled by the ‘natural’ label and nearly 90 percent expect it to mean much more than it does.”  

If you have ever been baffled by this label on some of the products you purchase or have seen in your local grocery store, now is your chance to take action. The FDA is all ears and waiting to hear from you, which is an anomaly in more ways than one, so take advantage of this rare opportunity.

Here are a few of the FDA’s questions concerning the term “natural,” which they seek consumer feedback on, outlined on their November news release:

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

You can find the FDA news release and the area to submit your comments using this link. The submission period for comments will close on February 10, 2016. It is vital for consumers to weigh in on the food we purchase and eat, including how it’s labeled.

What does the term “natural” mean to you?

Stephen Seifert

Stephen Seifert is a writer, professor, adventurer and a health & fitness guru. His flair for travel and outdoor adventure allows him to enjoy culture and traditions different than his own. A healthy diet, routine fitness and constant mental development is the cornerstone to Stephen’s life.


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