More than a year after the Food and Drug Administration signaled that it would soon nail down exactly what the word “natural” means, the agency has yet to provide any guidance — and baffled consumers are suing.
For manufacturers, such guidance would clarify the rules of the game, helping them avoid future legal action. For consumer groups, the concern is that shoppers don’t understand what they’re buying when they shell out more money for “natural” products.
According to a 2016 survey by Consumer Reports, 73 percent of consumers seek out products with the “natural” label. But many erroneously believe it indicates a food does not contain synthetic, highly processed or genetically modified ingredients, when in fact there are no clear rules for what “natural” is and isn’t.
Unofficially, the FDA says it expects natural foods to have “nothing artificial or synthetic (including all color additives, regardless of source)” added.
In 2015, after more than 100 lawsuits and several requests from judges, the FDA agreed to take up the question and began soliciting comments from the public. The deadline, initially set for February 2016, was delayed until May of that year. The agency has been mum since then on what action it plans to take.
Until then, food manufacturers are contending with a new wave of “all-natural” lawsuits, including those aimed at Sargento, Walmart and HINT.
The GLP aggregated and excerpted this article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. Read full, original post: The raging legal battle over what makes a food ‘natural (behind paywall)