“All-natural” is one of the most popular buzzwords that manufacturers use to make packaged food sound better, along with “fat-free” and “no added sugar.” But as we’ve reported in the past, “natural” is a word that essentially means nothing in the food and drink industry, because it’s not regulated by the FDA or USDA.According to a new report from Consumer Reports, 62 percent of Americans are more likely to buy products labeled natural, and 45 percent think it’s a regulated claim. They are wrong.
"The problem with having all these misleading labels is it creates a lot of green noise in the marketplace," Urvashi Rangan, director of food safety for Consumer Reports told USA Today. "If we think about wanting better food-production systems, then we need to provide meaningful choice to people."
Researchers added that because consumers are more health-conscious these days, they zero in on healthy sounding words like “gluten-free” or “zero trans-fat” as indicators of healthfulness, when in reality, they mean nothing.
"From a food-science perspective, it is difficult to define a food product that is 'natural' because the food has probably been processed in some way," says Lauren Kotwicki, a spokeswoman for the FDA.