While shopping recently, I noticed an increased number of products labeled “natural”; peanut butter, freeze dried fruits, snacks, meat products, etc. Next to them were organic products, prices were comparable. So, what is the difference?
A recent Consumer Reports National survey of 1,000 adults finds that more people purchase “natural” foods than organic foods —73 percent versus 58 percent. Approximately 70 percent of the people in the survey believe that organic foods are more expensive than “natural” foods.
According to Urvashi Rangen, the director of the Consumer Reports Food Safety & Sustainability Center indicated that consumers believe the ‘natural’ label means more than it does. He went on to explain that consumers may think they’re getting the same benefits as organic, but for less money.
Actually, the term “natural” is organic’s imposter. Consumers attribute all sorts of benefits to the term—no antibiotics, no artificial colors, no GMOs, no pesticides other than on the approved list. Organic means all those things but “natural” means none of them. In fact, FDA and no other food organization has issued a standard definition for “natural” foods at all.
It’s time for the “natural” label to go away, or the FDA to step up and do their job. There is way too much evidence that consumers are confused about what the claim “natural” actually means. The Food and Drug Administration has the responsibility to ban the use of the term on processed food packaging, or define it so it means what consumers expect it be.