The FDA Wants Your Help Defining The Word "Natural"

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While food companies frequently advertise their products as “natural,” it turns out no one really knows what that means. The word “natural” may conjure positive images of unprocessed foods, free of additives or artificial flavors, but there are no official rules governing what constitutes a natural product, and companies are free to use the “natural” label on almost anything. The FDA, concerned about the confusion the term is creating, is asking Americans to help them come up with an official definition.

Through May 10, anyone can send the FDA their thoughts on what the word “natural,” when applied to food labeling, should mean. The FDA hopes to gather public input on three main topics: Whether it is necessary to define “natural,” how the FDA should define “natural,” and how the FDA should determine the appropriate use of the term on food labels.

The FDA opened the question to Americans in November, after receiving three Citizen Petitions asking them to define the term on food labels. The agency hasn’t promised to create an official definition, though it seems clear they’re taking the idea into consideration.

With so many obscure ingredients in the foods we eat, and so little data about their origins, having an official definition for the word “natural” could provide people with a bit more information on what they’re consuming. Visit the FDA website to share your thoughts and ideas about what the term “natural” should mean.