Organic Consumers Association

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Whole Foods Sued over False 'All Natural' Claim on Baked Goods

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

The term all natural can easily be a rip-off slogan, slapped onto products posing to be all about consumer's health. Consumers are easily hoodwinked into paying extra for a product that is advertised as "all natural."

Also, just because a product has a "natural" ingredient, doesn't necessarily mean that that ingredient is safe, clean or healthy. Vitamin supplements may be sourced from indigestible isolates. Some herbal supplements, like Ginkgo biloba products from Starwest and Frontier, contain alarming levels of heavy metals. View the heavy metals results for popular Ginkgo biloba supplements at the Forensic Food Lab.

Natural ingredients are not always safer

There are many examples of "natural" compounds derived from natural processes that ultimately breakdown into dangerous forms in the body.

For instance, Tom's of Maine claims their deodorant to be natural, and that is mostly true, but the company uses a preservative in their deodorants that is a byproduct of the natural gas industry -- propylene glycol. This preservative is absorbed and metabolized into lactic acid in the human body, creating acidosis in the cells. A safer, all-natural preservative would be grapefruit seed extract, which is absorbed into the human body as a beneficial antibacterial agent.

"All natural" claims coming under scrutiny Three months ago, a federal judge in California acknowledged a $3.4 million lawsuit against Trader Joe's. The company misled consumers by falsely advertising products as "all natural" or "100% natural." Products containing ascorbic acid (a synthetic version of vitamin C), sodium acid pyrophosphate (a synthetic leavening agent), vegetable monoglycerides and diglycerides, cocoa processed with alkali or xantham gum have come into question. Trader Joe's could be held liable for misleading consumers about these ingredients that they deem as "all natural."


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