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Consumer Reports Survey Calls Attention to FDA 'Natural' Food Labeling Practices

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's All About Organics page and our Myth of Natural page.

So, you're trying to do better by reading labels and being more mindful with each bite. That's a good start. But what happens when you think something you're eating, consuming is healthy based upon the world 'natural' on the front of the product? How do you know if it is or not?

Consumer Reports Survey

According to Consumer Reports latest survey, 600 out of 1000 people think the word "Natural" represents a healthier product. Think again. FDA (Food and Drug Administration) The FDA regulates and reviews products we consume for misleading advertisement and promotion. Based upon the methods used to convey the products message, words like "Natural" may be used without offending public trust. For example, the FDA doesn't object to the word "Natural" being used if the product doesn't contain any chemical additives like added synthetic substances, color and artificial flavor.

"From a food science perspective, it is difficult to define a food product that is 'natural' because the food has probably been processed and is no longer the product of the earth. That said, FDA has not developed a definition for the use of 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 flavors, or synthetic substances." (

Food ingredients label lists all the contents used in producing the food.  The more ingredients listed behind the products name, the more likely the food has been processed using unhealthy ingredients.  But before you jump to conclusions, learn to recognize natural ingredients versus preservatives/synthetic substances.

Preservatives = Synthetic substances

Preservatives are synthetic substances added in food to extend the shelf life of the product (see below):
All "Natural" food can easily be identified when reading the label. If the food is (truly) natural, it will (typically) only have the primary food product listed on the label.  The following example is from an Organic Strawberry label.  Notice the only 'ingredient' listed is the food product and nothing else:   

But what about the naturally occurring 'chemicals' natural food contains?  If you break down the chemical composition of natural food there would be ingredients that looked like a chemical lab equation (the following provided by James Kennedy at following link   

Non-GMO Project Verified

More food products are making their way to the shelf with labels that may seem unfamiliar.  "Non-GMO Verfied" food labels represent a new trend in offering the public GMO free food (see below example).  As public awareness about GMO's grows, so will the production and use of GMO free products.  

Purchasing Non-GMO food may one day pay it forward in your health.  Until the FDA mandates GMO food products labeled, we can assume that our food is likely using genetically modified by-products in the production process.  Over 90% of the corn and soy harvested in America is cultivated from GMO seeds.  A greater percentage of our food contains both corn and soy (i.e., high fructose corn syrup, soy lecithin).