From now until February 10, the Food and Drug Administration is asking for information and general opinions about the use of the term “natural” on food labeling, citing “the changing landscape of food ingredients and production” as the impetus for change.
The FDA is taking this action in part because it received three citizen petitions asking that the agency define the term “natural” for use in food labeling and one citizen petition asking that the agency prohibit the term “natural” on food labels,” the agency said in a statement. “We also note that some federal courts, as a result of litigation between private parties, have requested administrative determinations from the FDA regarding whether food products containing ingredients produced using genetic engineering or foods containing high fructose corn syrup may be labeled as ‘natural.’”
As of now, the FDA has no official definition for the term “natural” on food labels, meaning that companies are permitted to use the term regardless of the method of production, the reliance on pesticides, or technologies like pasteurization.
Specifically, the FDA has asked the public to weigh in on whether or not the agency should indeed define the term “natural,” and if so, how; and how the agency should determine “appropriate use of the term” on labels.