Target: Michael R. Taylor Deputy Commissioner at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Goal: Ban the use of deceptive terminology in food labeling
The Consumer Reports National Research Center recently found that nearly 60 percent of consumers seek out products labeled “natural” when shopping for food. That same 60 percent believes that foods labeled “natural” have no artificial ingredients or pesticides and have not been genetically modified. Since the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) never formally defined standards for the term in food labeling, it doesn’t necessarily mean any of those things.
The FDA has said that the requirements for a natural product are that it “does not contain added color, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances.” Despite these alleged requirements, all three of these things can be found in foods claiming to be natural.
Equally ambiguous uses of the term were found on meat, eggs and poultry packaging, which the U.S. Department of Agriculture says are supposed to be “minimally processed and contain no artificial ingredients” when carrying the natural label.
Consumer Reports is now trying to ban the use of the term in food labeling altogether. “It’s misleading, confusing and deceptive,” Urvashi Rangan, executive director of the Food Safety and Sustainability Center at Consumer Reports says.
Ban the term “natural” from use in food product labeling and stop misleading consumers in their already difficult food choices.
Dear Michael R. Taylor Deputy Commissioner at the Food and Drug Administration,
The term “natural” is found all over food products and nearly 60 percent of consumers seek out foods labeled “natural,” trusting that they follow certain standards expected by consumers. Unfortunately, the term usually does not assure these standards.
While the FDA says that any product labeled as such “does not contain added color, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances,” a trip to the store proves otherwise. Consumers need only look at the ingredients list of many “natural” foods to see that it isn’t always the case.
In an environment of more and more processing and chemical enhancements of food, the consumer deserves labeling that allows for an educated decision about what he considers sustenance. Misleading and confusing labeling like the wildly ambiguous term “natural” do not allow for a conscious choice.
In fact, the definition of the word “natural” requires that the product in question not be made or caused by man, which is clearly not the case for a product in a box in a grocery store. The labeling is not only deceptive, but improbable.
I urge you to ban the use of the term “natural” in food labeling to give consumers a better chance at making healthy food choices.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Keith Weller via Wikimedia Commons